Great Fen Visitor Centre Design Competition

Great Fen Visitor Centre Design Ideas Competition, Cambridge Design Contest

Great Fen Visitor Centre : Cambridgeshire Design Competition

Cambridgeshire Design Ideas Contest, southeast England, UK

16 May 2013

Great Fen Visitor Centre Winner

Great Fen Visitor Centre – Winner announced

A team consisting of Shiro Studio Ltd, Mesh Partnership and Equals Consulting are announced today as the winners of the Great Fen Visitor Centre competition. RIBA Competitions managed the competition on behalf of the Great Fen – a partnership which comprises the Environment Agency, Huntingdonshire District Council, Middle Level Commissioners, Natural England and The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire.

Great Fen Cambridgeshire
image from RIBA

Great Fen is an internationally acclaimed vision, one of sweeping scale and ambition. Over the next 50-100 years, more than 3,000ha of largely arable land will be transformed into a mosaic of habitat: pools, ponds and ditches; reedbed; fen, bog and marsh; wet grassland; dry grassland; woodland and scrub. The restored landscape will be created around and between Holme Fen National Nature Reserve and Woodwalton Fen National Nature Reserve – precious fragments of wild fen that are home to rare and endangered species of fenland plants and animals. The new Visitor Centre will be the Great Fen’s hub – an essential part of the evolving fenland landscape, to stimulate exploration and serve its visitors to the highest standards.

Shiro Studio Ltd was selected from a five strong shortlist which also included (in alphabetical order of design team lead): Birds Portchmouth Russum Architects Ltd; Boyarsky Murphy Architects; Feilden + Mawson LLP and Foster Lomas Ltd. The Judging Panel was intrigued to see how the short-listed teams had refined and developed the design proposals submitted during the anonymous first phase of the competition. The Panel felt that Shiro Studio’s elegant proposals would sit beautifully within the expansive landscape. The team had skillfully incorporated elements of the traditional Fenland building typology within an exciting contemporary visitor centre design, whose silvery and bog-oak black exterior, shimmering with the play of Fenland light, would contrast markedly with, and complement, its spacious, light-filled interiors and panoramic views onto the surrounding landscape.

Great Fen Cambridgeshire
image from RIBA

Members of the Judging Panel commented:
‘I am thrilled and excited that this outstanding design by the Shiro Studio team has won the competition. It embodies the spirit of the Great Fen with sensitivity, elegance, and imagination. We will create a truly special building here, one that is warm and welcoming, one that local people and visitors alike will enjoy using, and one that will reasonate with the fantastic fenland landscapebeing formed around it. The Project Partners were hugely impressed with the Shiro Studio team’s response to the competition brief, and to their understanding of and empathy with the vision of the Great Fen. We are all looking forward to working with Andrea Morgante and his colleagues to create this beautiful building, which will be a new beating heart at the centre of the Great Fen’.
Kate Carver (Great Fen Project Manager)

‘It was a great honour chairing the Judging Panel for this ambitious design competition. The anonymous first stage attracted a phenomenal number of submissions and it was a challenging task arriving at the final shortlist. The standard of the Stage 2 submissions was very high but a winner was selected by consensus following a very comprehensive judging process. In the end it was felt that the design proposals by Shiro Studio and their team best reflected the spirit of the Great Fen project and that their design proposals demonstrated great intelligence, flair, flexibility and sensitivity.’ Cindy Walters (Walters & Cohen Architects)

12 Feb 2013

Great Fen Visitor Centre Shortlist

Great Fen Visitor Centre – Shortlist announced

The shortlist is announced today for the Great Fen Visitor Centre competition. RIBA Competitions is managing the competition on behalf of the Great Fen partnership, which comprises the Environment Agency, Huntingdonshire District Council, Middle Level Commissioners, Natural England and The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire.

Great Fen is an internationally acclaimed vision, one of sweeping scale and ambition. Over the next 50-100 years, more than 3,000ha of largely arable land will be transformed into a mosaic of habitat: open water, lakes, ponds and ditches; reedbed; fen, bog and marsh; wet grassland; dry grassland; woodland and scrub. The restored landscape will be created around and between Holme Fen National Nature Reserve and Woodwalton Fen National Nature Reserve – precious fragments of wild fen that are home to rare and endangered species of fenland plants. The new Visitor Centre will be the Great Fen’s hub – an essential part of the evolving fenland landscape, to stimulate exploration and serve its visitors to the highest standards.

The first stage of the competition attracted 201 anonymous entries, with design teams from across Europe and the UK submitting preliminary proposals for the project. The Judging Panel was delighted by the outstanding response to the competition and to see how competitors had addressed the unique flatness of the Fens, the big Fenland skies and the horizon as a feature in the landscape. In view of the response and the range of site approaches and building typologies proposed, the Judging Panel recommended that the short-list should be increased to five.

Great Fen Cambridgeshire
photo from RIBA Competitions

The five short-listed teams (in alphabetical order of design team lead) were subsequently identified as:

– Birds Portchmouth Russum Architects Ltd.
– Boyarsky Murphy Architects
– Feilden + Mawson LLP
– Foster Lomas Ltd.
– Shiro Studio Ltd.

Members of the Judging Panel commented:

‘The Great Fen Project Partners are delighted with the enthusiastic response to their call for a Great Fen Visitor Centre design, and look forward to the ultimate selection of a design that will embody and progress their vision for the Great Fen.’
Kate Carver (Great Fen Project Manager)

‘The Great Fen Project Partners ought to be congratulated on choosing an open and anonymous first stage for this competition. In an industry where procurement is often biased towards track record, it is refreshing to find clients who are still prepared to run competitions that give practices of all sizes and experience the chance of being selected for an ambitious and exciting project such as this. Short-listing was a challenge due to the unusually high number and calibre of submissions received – we were all fascinated to subsequently learn the names of the practices behind the preliminary proposals.’
Cindy Walters (Walters & Cohen Architects, RIBA Architect Adviser to the Competition)

Panel members look forward to seeing further exploration and refinement of the Stage 1 design concepts, when the short-listed teams present their schemes to the Judging Panel in late April 2013.

16 Oct 2012

Great Fen Visitor Centre

Launch of Great Fen Visitor Centre Design Ideas Competition

RIBA Competitions is pleased to announce the launch of a two-stage Design Ideas Competition for the Great Fen Visitor Centre in Cambridgeshire. The competition is being promoted by the Great Fen – a partnership which comprises the Environment Agency, Huntingdonshire District Council, Middle Level Commissioners, Natural England and The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire.

19 Dec 2012 – registration closing date

10 Jan 2013 2pm – deadline for Stage 1 design submissions

Great Fen is an internationally acclaimed vision, one of sweeping scale and ambition. Over the next 50-100 years, more than 3,000ha of largely arable land will be transformed into a mosaic of habitat: open water, lakes, ponds and ditches; reedbed; fen, bog and marsh; wet grassland; dry grassland; woodland and scrub. Ninety-nine percent of the great East Anglian wetland has been lost over time. Rare and endangered specis of fenland plants and animals are now compressed into tiny refuge areas, precious fragments of wild fen. Two of these, Holme Fen National Nature Reserve and Woodwalton Fen National Nature Reserve are central to the Great Fen Vision, which seeks to create around and between them a restored fenland landscape – a living landscape for wildlife and people.

The circa £2m [+VAT] Visitor Centre will be an integral and essential part of the evolving fenland landscape, stimulating explorartion, and serving its visitors to the highest standards. The winning scheme will need to reflect the overall ambition of the Great Fen, with an exceptional building that makes best use of the site qualities and an exemplar of sustainability in construction and use. The competition is open to design teams based in Europe and the UK, which should include the services of a practising registered architect, landscape architect [and may be led by either discipline] and a quantity surveyor. Up to 4 schemes will be short-listed from the anonymous Stage 1 entries. Stage 2 will involve further exploration and refinement of the Stage 1 design concepts, with the short-listed teams invited to attend an interview and make a presentation to the Judging Panel. Each short-listed team will receive an honorarium of £3,000 (+VAT).

For details of how to register for the competition and how to access the Competition Brief, please visit:
www.architecture.com/competitions. Please note that registrations will close on Wednesday 19 December 2012, and the deadline for Stage 1 design submissions is 2pm on Thursday 10 January 2013.

Great Fen Visitor Centre Competition – Background Information

The Great Fen is one of the most important wildlife projects in Europe. The wild fens once stretched for hundreds of miles across Eastern England, home to a great variety of wildlife, much of it unique to the area. In the 17th century when the land was drained for farming more than 99% of this wild habitat disappeared. The last two fragments of wild fen are under threat and the Great Fen aim to connect these precious fragments creating a vast fen landscape for people and for wildlife between the cities of Huntingdon and Peterborough. For further details visit www.greatfen.org.uk

Great Fen Visitor Centre Competition information from RIBA Competitions

Great Fen Visitor Centre : design entry


To see all listed projects on a single map please follow this link.




Cambridge Architecture

Cambridge Architecture Design – chronological list

Cambridge Architecture Walking Tours : city walks by e-architect

Cambridge Walking Tours

Cambridge Architecture

Cambridgeshire Buildings

Another Cambridgeshire Design Contest on e-architect:

North West Cambridge Extension Competition
Design Contest winners
Cambridge Architecture
image from organisers
North West Cambridge Extension Competition

Cambridge Architecture – Recent Designs

Cambridge Mosque
Marks Barfield Architects
Cambridge Mosque Building
image from architects

Cambridge Mosque

Sainsbury Laboratory, University of Cambridge Botanic Garden
Stanton Williams
Sainsbury Laboratory Cambridge
image : Nigel Luckhurst

Sainsbury Laboratory

Gonville & Caius Boathouse – Architecture Competition
Belsize Architects
Gonville & Caius Boathouse Cambridge
image from architects

Gonville & Caius Boathouse

Cambridge Building News

Cambridge Architects

Cambridge Architecture – Selected Designs

Clare College – New Court
van Heyningen and Haward Architects
Clare College New Court
photo © Will Pryce

Clare College New Court

Cambridge University Department of Architecture Extension
Mole Architects
Cambridge School of Architecture
photograph : David Butler

Cambridge School of Architecture

Cambridge Architect Offices

Comments / photos for the Great Fen Visitor Centre – Cambridgeshire Design Ideas Competition page welcome

Great Fen Visitor Centre Design Ideas Competition – page

Website: Cambridge