Designed by Glenn Howells Architects, Timber Wharf is a spectacular new-build scheme that has set new standards for contemporary, affordable housing in North West England.
This international competition for contemporary newbuild housing in central Manchester was initiated in 1998 by developer Urban Splash in conjunction with English Partnerships.
The site lies within a predominantly industrial area. It sits at the junction of three distinct areas: Hulme, Castlefield; and Pomona, connected through to Salford Quays and Manchester Ship Canal.
The brief was to create a new housing type capable of being mass produced, using modern building techniques on a realistic budget to challenge the preconceived notions of volume house building.
Competitors were asked to design a scheme that responded to the emerging needs of the 21st century purchaser, that was clearly contemporary, but that could be built at prices that volume housing developers achieve on suburban estates. The RIBA advertised the competition internationally and received a huge response, both within the UK and overseas. Over 370 requests for the brief were received and 169 entries were submitted.
The judges were astounded by the quality of thought and presentation; one commented, 'any number of them could be built as a creditable alternative to most developers'. In recognition of the overall high standard of designs, it was decided to award nine commendations.
Glenn Howells Architects was awarded first prize. The site layout was simple with a refined integration of elegant landscape and a good contextual relationship with the adjacent buildings. The building was completed in 2002 and has since won several awards.
Tom Bloxham, Group Chairman and Co-Founder, Urban Splash said: 'Urban Splash have used the RIBA Competitions Office on a number of occasions and have been happy with the results and will continue to use them. Despite having considerable knowledge about running competitions and procurement generally within Urban Splash we have found using an external agency like the RIBA gives the competition process an outside objectivity, an independent and experienced chair, helps create publicity for the competition and undertakes a lot of the donkey work, albeit at a modest cost.'
Nick Johnson, Deputy Chief Executive, Urban Splash said: 'Architectural competitions are the breeding ground for new ideas and new talent, they smash preconceptions, break down barriers and produce award winning designs. At Urban Splash we have produced some of our best buildings through competitions, partnering with RIBA is an integral part of that success. We've run over 10 competitions with RIBA Competitions who allow us to concentrate on selecting a winner whilst they deal with all the organisation and administration making the decision to go down the competition route that much more easy for us to make.'
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