The widespread interest in the design competition for 70 social and affordable houses to Code level 5 of the Code for Sustainable Homes was maintained right up to the final day of the intense judging period following the stage 2 submissions. This may well have had a lot to do with the fact that two local practices had been shortlisted from the anonymously submitted stage 1 entries. No mean feat given that it was a European wide competition with an unprecedented 113 architectural practices registering to take part. The 61 practices which actually entered the competition were from all over the UK, the RoI and mainland Europe.
The houses are to be built in Carryduff on a steeply sloping site on the Killynure Road and this challenging topography threw up a number of interesting solutions.
It wasn’t an easy task for the judging panel chaired by architect Dickon Robinson, ex Peabody Trust, whose name is synonymous with some of the most innovative housing projects of the 1990’s. He was ably assisted by the other independent on the panel, Patrick Bellew, a principal of world leading environmental designers Atelier Ten and well supported by the four other judges, John McPeake and Dolores Ferran of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (competition promoter), Niall Sheridan of the Oaklee Homes Group who appropriately are to build the winning scheme and Donal MacRandal of the Housing Advisory Branch of CPD.
The five architectural practices shortlisted to stage 2 were:
B3 Architects – Newcastle-upon-tyne
The Boyd Partnership – Belfast
Paul Davis and Partners – London
RMJM – Edinburgh
Robinson McIlwaine – Belfast
The judging panel unanimously agreed the design submitted by Paul Davis and Partners to be the winning entry. The Chairman’s report referred to the strong presentation by Pedro Roos, Ciara Gormley (both of Paul Davis and Partners) and Tomas Selva (pha consult) which described how the scheme had been driven by the topography, specific code 5 aspirations and urban design principles. The report continued indicating that:
“The panel applauded the sequence of landscaped spaces which cascade down from the generous “village green” at the summit, via a more intimate grassed area half way down, to the site entrance and the way the shared road surface sweeps up to the summit in an easy curve which responds gracefully to the topography. The decision to cluster the homes in short terraces of three or four houses was considered to be a good compromise between the need to limit external wall area and the predominantly detached grain of the surrounding area.”
The local practice Robinson McIlwaine came a very close second in the competition, the jury concluding that the proposals by Robinson McIlwaine and Paul Davis and Partners were particularly strong but on balance the jury decided that the Paul Davis and Partners scheme should be the winner “by virtue of the superiority of its approach to urban design as demonstrated by its fitness for purpose and imaginative interpretation of the brief”.
Director RSUA and Competition Advisor