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URBED scoops 2014 Wolfson Economics Prize

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Manchester-based masterplanner URBED has won the £250,000 Wolfson Economics Prize for its garden city vision

The practice’s final submission for the 2104 Wolfson Economics Prize proposes a city of 400,000 people, created by doubling the size of an existing town and building on the surrounding green belt.

URBED’s vision is centered on the imaginary city of Uxcester, which would see an extra 82,000 homes built over a period of 35 years.

Around 16,000 homes would be constructed within the space of the existing town, and three urban extensions would provide between 20 - 25,000 homes each.

The proposal argued that as many as 40 cities in England could be doubled in size in this way, such as Northampton, Norwich, Oxford, Rugby, Reading and Stafford.

URBED’s David Rudlin commented: ‘I am delighted that our distinctive approach to building Garden Cities has been recognised by the judges, as will the good people of the fictional city of Uxcester that we created for the submission. We believe that the expansion of existing places like Uxcester to create Garden Cities has the potential to make a significant contribution to meeting our housing needs as well as creating places that are attractive and popular, and that fulfil their economic potential.’

The winning team included David Rudlin with Nicholas Falk, both of URBED, with input from Jon Rowland of John Rowland Urban Design, Joe Ravetz of Manchester University and Peter Redman, the managing director of policy and research at TradeRisks.

URBED saw off strong competition from four other shortlisted entries including proposals by Barton Willmore, Shelter with PRP, Golding Homes, and Wei Yang & Partners.

Entrants to the competition – which has the largest cash fund after the Nobel Prize – were tasked with producing ideas for a ‘visionary and economically viable’ new Garden City in a bid to solve Britain’s growing housing crisis.

Founder of the Prize, Simon Wolfson, said: ‘We urgently need to build more houses and great places in Britain. I am delighted that this year’s Wolfson Economics Prize has generated so many powerful and creative proposals for new garden cities. David’s entry is a tour de force of economic and financial analysis, creative thinking and bold, daring ideas. I congratulate him and his team on a fantastic contribution to the debate on how we can deliver great new places for future generations to live, work and play in.’

Trevor Osborne, the chairman of the judges, added: ‘Our expert finalists have produced an amazing range of ideas in their final submissions. We have been humbled by their creativity, imagination, technical ability and economic skill. It has been very difficult to pick an overall winner, especially since each finalist has taken a distinctive approach. We thank all the entrants for their efforts. We have identified Shelter as a second-placed finalist. However, we have decided unanimously that David Rudlin should be awarded the £250,000 top prize, and offer our congratulations to him and his team.’

A £50,000 runner-up prize was awarded to Shelter for its submission which was drawn up with PRP Architects.

Each of the other three finalists will receive £10,000.

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