RIBA announces winners of post-COVID design competition

Jul 31, 2020
  • Article by Online Editor

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced the winners of the Rethink: 2025 international design competition.

Inviting architects and students from across the globe to consider what life and our built environment would look like post-COVID-19, the competition settled on three joint winners.

Almost 150 entries were submitted from 18 countries with entrants given seven categories from which to generate ideas – the future of; healthcare spaces, remote learning, high density living, public transport, high streets vs online shopping, international travel and the use of technology to monitor and control populations.

The judging panel featured Mecanoo founding partner Francine Houben, Google AI principal designer Matt Jones, IF_DO director Sarah Castle, Arup director Ed Clark, HS2 head of design Joanna Averley and London Mayor design advocate and founder of Asif Khan Architects Asif Khan. 

The first winning entry came from London practice PeopleMatter and included the winner of the Dissertation Medal in the 2019 RIBA President’s Medals.

‘Streets are Made for Walking’ proposes the transformation of traffic corridors into quality public space, using Holloway Road, a broad highway which stretches 659 kilometres from London to Edinburgh, as its case study.

PeopleMatter designed a “framework to capitalize on this newly found urban condition and accelerate a transition towards cleaner, greener, safer and happier streets”, with judges applauding the practice for its emphasis on mobility and health.

The second winning entry came from Tim Rodber and Dominic Walker and rethought urban life to mitigate against future pandemics.

‘A Greater London Agriculture’ proposes to transform the capital’s metropolitan area into an ecologically diverse, agricultural landscape, addressing the premise that “industrialised food production has made us vulnerable to diseases spread from animals”. 

Judge Asif Khan said the proposal showed “clear hierarchical design thinking from individual to city. It’s an ideal combination of top down and bottom up.”

The final winning proposal was from University of Liverpool and UWE students Benjamin Holland, Olivia Dolan and Katie Williams and explores how the coronavirus crisis “has been the rapid solution of apparently impossible problems”.

‘Get Everyone In’ addresses the dual issues of homelessness and empty offices in London by making homes in re-used and repurposed buildings.

The proposed reworking sees communal health facilities on ground level and brings nature into the mix with vertical vegetable gardens at mid level. For the upper levels, offices are used for hostel-style bedrooms with communal spaces in the centre.

The jury applauded the trio for addressing sustainability and farming as well as communal life in their proposal.

The judging panel chose three joint winners after deciding that changes were “required at every level by everybody, from the individual to the national and global, to emerge from this crisis successfully”.

The total prize fund of £8000 ($14,425), sponsored by Arup and the RIBA and will be split equally between the winners.

Images and videos courtesy of the RIBA.

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