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· Alex Abbey

TRADA Urban Buzz Competition

Cullinan Studio inspired and supported this cross-disciplinary design charrette at the University of Sheffield

TRADA's Urban Buzz Competition took place over two days of intensive work on 23rd and 24th February. My colleague, Carol Costello, and I were part of a judging panel which included architects, engineers and landscape architects. We were impressed by how TRADA (Timber Research and Development Association) organised the event at the University of Sheffield's Diamond Building, which has outstanding collaboration and making spaces. We were even more impressed with the students who did not know each other before the event and came from architecture, engineering and landscape specialisms to create compelling proposals.

The Brief:

To design a multi-storey timber car park for a riverside site in Bath City centre. 

It was interesting to challenge the standard concept of what a car park is and could be. The better schemes pushed the boundaries of timber engineering, taking a more experimental approach. The winners presented a coherent scheme as a real team performance. 

The Proposals

Team 3: Their stepped landscape was for me the most convincing of the integrated landscapes. They had a very thorough structural model which was probably the best presented.

Team 4: A nice clear and logical plan. We liked the way it could be adapted for further use. 

Team 6: The winner, with members from the University of Sheffield, Edinburgh Napier University, Coventry University and Leicester School of Architecture. A very good team presentation with input from each member. Their proposal was structurally ambitious with a clear view on adaptability and a lovely concept model with convincing supporting sketches. The stepped garden and set backs addressing the river with pedestrian connections laterally and vertically gave a rich landscape. 

Team 8: This team presented the best resolution of the ground floor giving a grander scale and links to the landscape. The suggestion of a variety of use was convincing. The central atrium cut back section was also liked as a green way to the roof. This was one of the few schemes that had an answer for the elevations that was inventive and sculptural.

Team 10: We enjoyed the inventive and efficient circular plan and its ability to be adapted for future use, as well as allowing more of the site to be given over to park. The original concept of a central spine with cantilever floors was one of the strongest. 

Team 12: A very strong concept. We liked the breaking down of the massing into three blocks that created a strong masterplan for the site with good permeability and connectivity to the river and the city. The overarching roof was also liked, as well as the quality of their drawings.

It was great to see so many universities and disciplines represented - next time it would be good to see some Services Engineers involved too.

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