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Whitehaven Central Harbour Site Competition

09/08/2010 by architectural competitions

1.1 Invitation

Britain’s Energy Coast Cumbria and Magnus Homes invite submissions to a two-stage, International Open Design Competition for a circa GBP £10m mixed-use development on a prominent site overlooking Whitehaven Harbour.

The Competition is organised with the support of the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Competitions Office and Places Matter! (the architecture centre for the Northwest).

Britain’s Energy Coast is a £2 billion package of regeneration projects that will establish the West Coast of Cumbria as a major national hub for low carbon and renewable energy generation.
Britain’s Energy Coast West Cumbria is responsible for delivering Regeneration and Economic Development Programmes to achieve the objectives of Britain’s Energy Coast Master Plan in order to develop sustainable communities in Allerdale and Copeland, whilst making a substantial contribution to achieving key regional and national objectives for carbon reduction and security of energy supply.
The project will be part of Britain’s Energy Coast Place Programme which includes Commercial Developments, Residential Developments, Community and Education Facilities, Infrastructure, Public Realm and Mixed Use Developments.

Magnus Homes is an experienced house building company based in the north of England.  It specialises in constructing quality homes and apartments with an eye for design.  Magnus Homes is part of the Pentakan group of companies.

Britain’s Energy Coast West Cumbria has been working in partnership with Magnus Homes to support the development of this key development site on Whitehaven Harbour as this project directly contributes to two of Britain’s Energy Coast West Cumbria top priority outcomes:  improved quality of business accommodation and to improve the quality and diversity of housing.
The site was identified as one of the priority key development sites as part of the Whitehaven Town Centre Development Framework.  Britain’s Energy Coast has entered into a post-competition legal agreement with Magnus Homes, such that the winning architect will be appointed by Magnus Homes to develop their design proposals up to RIBA Stage D (planning application) in the first instance.  Subject to the scheme successfully obtaining planning permission (and its commercial viability), Magnus Homes intends to retain the winning architect through to project completion.

The Competition is open internationally to architect-led design teams which (at Stage 2) will also need to include the services of a structural engineer and M&E consultant, as a minimum.  Magnus Homes intends to appoint its own Quantity Surveyor who will assess the deliverability of the schemes (particularly at Stage 2) and provide post-competition cost control.  Architectural students who have successfully completed their RIBA Part 2 studies and are working towards their Part 3 qualification are also welcome to enter the competition.  However, such applicants must give due consideration to a proposed delivery strategy in the event of them being short-listed and potentially being in a position to go on and win the competition.  The Winner will need to demonstrate an ability to take a scheme of this nature and magnitude through to planning and successful project completion.  The selection process will be organised as follows:

Stage 1:        Submission of concept designs which will be assessed anonymously.

Stage 2:        Up to five schemes will be selected to proceed to Stage 2 and anonymity subsequently lifted.  Stage 2 will involve further exploration and refinement of the Stage 1 ideas, with the short-listed teams invited to attend an interview and make a presentation to the Judging Panel.

1.2 Aspirational statement

The 2,600m2 [0.26Ha] site occupies a fantastic setting adjacent to Whitehaven Harbour and represents one of the most impressive current development opportunities in Cumbria.  Over the past decade, the former working port has been transformed into a thriving marina for leisure craft, with significant investment in associated public realm improvements.  The redevelopment of the site presents an opportunity to continue this regeneration via the contribution of an active harbour frontage, with improved visual and pedestrian links to the town centre.

The scheme should reinforce the distinctiveness of Whitehaven, and seek to complement, via the use of high quality architectural approaches, the local vernacular rather than necessarily offering a pastiche of it.  The scheme should respond to the context of the harbour-side setting and its marina, but should be mindful of its position between the harbour and the Town Centre, to achieve a sustainable development of long-lasting architectural quality.

Whilst allowing Whitehaven to become known as an exemplar of creative, high quality contextual design, the scheme will have to present a commercially viable proposition.

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