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Seven firms shortlisted in zero-carbon Meridian Water contest

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A seven-strong shortlist has been unveiled in a competition to enhance the sustainability of the masterplan for the second phase of development at Meridian Water in Enfield, north London

The finalists are Assael Architecture, Bell Phillips Architects, HHBR, Marks Barfield Architects, Allies and Morrison, PRP, and Netherlands-based landscape firm OKRA.

The seven teams were selected from 20 submissions to the two-stage contest, which sought high-level, sustainability-led concepts for the central area of the enormous, wider masterplan – designed by Karakusevic Carson Architects – which aims to deliver 10,000 new homes, 6,000 jobs and at least 10ha of parkland over the next 25 years.

The council’s brief sought high-level concepts to enshrine the ‘triple bottom line’ of environmental, social and economic sustainability at the centre of future development on the large brownfield site next to London’s busy North Circular road.

This briefing document was put together with help from Public Practice placements Elizabeth Rapoport, formerly research director at the Urban Land Institute, and Rafe Bertram, who was previously a partner at Fosters + Partners.

Stage one submissions were asked to focus on Meridian Water’s 11.8ha second phase, which will deliver 2,300 new homes – of which 40 per cent will be affordable – along with a hotel, student accommodation, a primary school, commercial spaces, shops and social infrastructure.

Last summer an outline planning application was submitted for the site, which is expected to harness zero-carbon construction, generate more energy than it uses, and encourage walking and cycling as part of the council’s ambition to be carbon-neutral by 2030.

Lisa Woo, who is employed by Enfield Council as head of placemaking for its Meridian Water programme, said: ‘We received more than 20 submissions and were impressed by the amount of interest and quality of responses, despite the unusual working arragement impacted by Covid-19.

‘There is so much creativity and collaborative spirit in the sector. The ideas competition was launched as an opportunity to stress test the draft Meridian Water Sustainability Strategy and invite design-led approaches to the triple bottom-line principles of sustainability through unusual multidisciplinary collaborations across the sector.’

The head of placemaking – who was previously a design advisor at CABE – also praised Rapoport and Bertram for helping to initiate the unique competition process. Woo said: ‘The energy, enthusiasm and experience they bring to the team not only helped the programme gain more momentum but helped strengthen the culture of collaboration and better clienting. We are much more empowered as a team since they have joined.’

The seven finalists will now each receive a £10,000 honorarium to draw up more detailed proposals for a specific site within the second-phase masterplan. The competition winner is expected to work alongside a new, soon-to-announced design team, which has been selected to take over from Karakusevic Carson Architects and work on Meridian Water’s latest and more detailed overall masterplan.

Meridian Water masterplan by Karakusevic Carson Architects

Meridian Water masterplan by Karakusevic Carson Architects

Meridian Water masterplan by Karakusevic Carson Architects

Last summer the government announced a £156 million boost to Meridian Water scheme and Enfield Council also submitted outline plans for 2,300 homes in the project’s second phase. The development has been masterplanned by Karakusevic Carson Architects with 5th Studio and CGL Architects since 2015 and was previously being masterplanned by LDA Design since 2010.

Hawkins\Brown and HTA Design were selected last summer as the design team for the first parcel of 725 homes within phase one of Meridian Water. The Willoughby Lane site is the first to come through in the wider development of 10,000 homes.

In 2017, Enfield Council terminated a Barratt/Segro joint venture as the preferred master developer bidder for the project, branding the housebuilder’s terms ‘unacceptable’.

Instead the local authority opted for the ‘unprecedented’ approach of taking lead responsibility for setting strategies, working up the masterplan and selecting development partners to bring forward specific parts.

A new Meridian Water railway station, which opened last summer, is expected to eventually serve up to four million rail passengers a year.

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