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Teenagers win 'shadow' contest for £49m Islington scheme

Winners of the shadow Open City contest for a £49m scheme in Islington
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A team of four teenage girls has won a ‘shadow’ design competition for a £49 million mixed-use development in Islington, north London

The competition, organised by Open City for Islington Council, was run in parallel with a RIBA competition for the site containing Finsbury Leisure Centre in the St Luke’s area near Old Street. In January, the AJ reported that RSHP, Grimshaw, Hawkins Brown, PTE and Henley Halebrown Rorrison with Tim Ronalds Architects and Sergison Bates Architects, have been shortlisted for the job.

Natasha Atam, Ola Adeyemi, Bareera Borhan and Aqsaa Hasan were awarded their prize at a ceremony on 17 February, at AHMM’s the Angel Building – a promise of two weeks paid internship at the winning professional practice, which will be announced after the mayoral election in May.

The project brief for the 14-18 year olds’ contest was set by Adam Barnett, principal planner at Islington Council and Open City’s head of advocacy and enabling Suzie Zuber and matched the criteria of the professional competition.

It asked the teenagers to replace the 1960s structure on site with a new civic complex featuring a leisure centre, enlarged energy centre, nursery, health centre, sports pitches and up to 124 homes. ’We didn’t want to dumb down,’ said Zuber.

She added: ’Islington’s idea to run a shadow competition for aspiring young architects is an inspirational form of consultation that Open-City hopes other London boroughs will be inspired by.

’Forty 14-18 year olds took part in the competition, coming to Open-City workshops following the competition launch last summer. The workshops covered the basic principles of design, architectural drawing and how to get started on the brief.’

Approximately 50 per cent of the teenagers lived or went to school in Islington while others came from across London as far as Hillingdon and Bexley. In total, six teams submitted entries in November.

Open City’s new chief executive Rory Olcayto also attended the ceremony. He said: ’Islington Council has been bold here: giving young people a sense of what’s involved in large-scale projects like this is crucial if we are serious about creating a more equitable and accessible London.’

The jury which picked the all-girl winning team included: Islington Council’s director of strategic planning Karen Sullivan, Eshwyn Prahbu and Adam Bennett, from the council’s strategic planning department, David Gibson chair of the Islington Society and the chairman of the Islington design Review, Dominic Papa, founder of architectural practice S333.



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