The Heathrow Contest: Greenpeace launch architecture competition

Jan 28, 2010
  • Article by Online Editor

Environmental activists Greenpeace has launched a competition, open to architects and architecture students, to design a structure that will allow protesters to physically block construction of the planned third runway at London’s busy Heathrow Airport.

Called the Heathrow Contest, the competition asks entrants to propose a “practical solution, facilitating resistance to the development of the runway if full scale non-violent direct action is necessary”.

Greenpeace own a 3,000sqm plot of land, called the Airplot, in the middle of the proposed site for the third runway. The land was bought in January 2009, the same month in which the UK government announced plans for the third runway. There are now over 60,000 beneficial owners of the runway land.

John Sauven, Executive Director of Greenpeace, said: “In rising to the challenge of climate change, many architects, designers, urban planners and engineers are already streets ahead of the politicians that represent us. The ideas, ability and ingenuity is out there, yet backward government decisions, like the one to support a third runway a Heathrow, threaten to undermine the quiet revolution that is already underway.”

Jurors include Sarah North, Greenpeace Campaigns Director; Peter Clegg, Senior Partner of architecture practice Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios; Professor Neil Thomas,Founder of structural engineering company Atelier One; artist Rachael Whiteread; Oli Rodker, environmental activist; and Alistair McGowan, British Comedian and Airplot co-owner.

Thomas described the competition as “one of the most fascinating design briefs ever put out to competition. Architects are being asked to design a structure that will become iconic the moment it’s finished.”

Clegg added: “As architects, we know what can be achieved in terms of carbon reductions through the design and engineering of our buildings. But we are painfully aware of the fact that there are bigger issues to do with major infrastructure projects where we also need to make a stand.”

The deadline for entries to the ideas competition is Friday 23 April.


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