The prize winners of the open ideas competition for the Market Square area of Newport city centre (South Wales) are announced today.
The competition was promoted by Newport City Council and Newport Unlimited, working in partnership with the Welsh Development Agency and the Design Commission for Wales. The purpose behind the competition was to inspire a way forward to resolve a complex set of issues and raise the profile of the Market Square and surrounding area. There is currently no commitment to implement the winning scheme from the partner organisations, however, the promoters challenged designers to create an inspirational, dynamic new space that people would want to use and to provide a revitalised connection between the city centre and the River Usk.
Fifty-three submissions were received from competitors based in the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Far East. The design submissions were judged anonymously by a jury panel that included the Mayor of Newport, representatives from the partner organisations, the President of the Landscape Institute, the Chair of the Design Commission for Wales and an architectural adviser from the RIBA. Seven short-listed schemes were subject to an anonymous public exhibition at the Newport City Centre Library from 18-31 March 2006. The jury panel received feedback from the public exhibition and awarded the prizes to the competitors that they felt had responded best to the competition brief and the promoters' aspirations for the Market Square area. The prize winners and remaining short-listed schemes were subsequently identified as:
Stephen Baty and Paul Jones with Northumbria University
Art2Architecture London Ltd., Urban Red and Alan Baxter Associates
Joint third prize
Anonymous Architects (Bradford)
Holder Mathias Architects (Cardiff) and Faber Maunsell
Other short-listed entries (in alphabetical order)
David Flynn, Architect (Dublin)
Scott Wilson Ltd. (Birmingham)
Taylor Architects (County Mayo)
The jury panel was pleased to see that the first prize had been awarded to two lecturers from the Architecture Programme at Northumbria University. Stephen Baty and Paul Jones set up an architecture and research partnership in 2004, as a vehicle to inform teaching at the university. They were equally delighted to learn that Peter Fink, the artist behind Newport's 'Steel Wave' sculpture, was part of the team awarded second prize. The joint third prize was awarded to a team from the Cardiff office of Holder Mathias Architects with Urban Designer / Engineers Faber Maunsell, and to Bradford-based Anonymous Architects.
Members of the jury panel commented:
''Involvement in judging the competition entries has been an invigorating experience. Whilst the city council currently has no commitment to build any one of the winning entries, it has raised the profile of the city with interest from 22 countries around the world as well as the UK and a mixture of students and professionals. The ideas for the Market Square have provided some food for thought in a process that will inspire the way forward in dealing with a complex set of physical issues on the site. There was lively debate about the short-listed finalists, so much so that we had a shortlist of seven and then down to a final four, with a joint third prize awarded. We would like to thank all the entrants who submitted designs and showed an interest in the city and the changing face of our public spaces.''
Councillor Ken Critchley (The Right Worshipful Mayor of Newport)
''The sheer variety of response to this ideas competition clearly indicated to me the difficulty in overcoming the urban design and architectural challenges presented by this important site. The entrants were asked to juggle with a complex set of issues including heritage considerations, difficult levels, intrusive highways, a poor sense of place as well as a sensitive riverside setting. To succeed designers needed to take a holistic approach to solving these problems. The selection process was rigorous and democratic and it was not easy for the jury to decide upon a shortlist, let alone a winner, as no individual submission successfully provided a comprehensive, yet inspiring solution. I was impressed by the effort and thought that some had obviously put into their work and the competition gave birth to a range of innovative and interesting proposals. I was encouraged by the interest generated by this competition and hope that the city will one day be in a position to move forward with an exciting regeneration proposal.''
Kevin Murphy (Aaron Evans Architects - RIBA Adviser to the Competition)