Competition launched for architects to design new Wolverhampton neighbourhood
An international architectural competition to design a diverse and creative neighbourhood at the heart of Wolverhampton has been announced.
Social impact developers Capital&Centric – working in collaboration with City of Wolverhampton Council on the landmark St George’s site – have teamed up with the Royal Institute of British Architects for the competition, which is set to launch soon.
It will see a shortlist of architecture practices put forward their initial ideas for the five-acre plot, with the challenge to incorporate the existing Grade II listed church as a centrepiece of an aspirational, diverse and "playful" neighbourhood that will act as a further catalyst for the transformation of the city.
They will be tasked with incorporating a melting pot of homes, community facilities, accommodation for businesses, as well as verdant public spaces. A key tenet of the brief will be encouraging wellbeing, health and a distinct sense of identify and place that stands out from the crowd.
RIBA’s competitions are aimed at delivering some of the most inspirational and outstanding designs. Architecture practices which may wish to be considered for this private invitation competition are encouraged to contact Martin Crews at Capital&Centric by e-mail to email@example.com.
John Moffat, joint managing director at Capital&Centric, said: “We’ve been pretty dogmatic in our belief that exemplar design doesn’t have to be the preserve of London, or the South. Delivering development on brownfield sites in towns and cities is critical to the UK’s housing supply, but that’s no excuse for bland and boring new builds that add little to the social fabric of a place.
“We’re teaming up with RIBA to ensure that the St George’s neighbourhood in Wolverhampton can be held up as a best-in-class example of how to do creative, brownfield regeneration right in a way that delivers social value. We want the practices to come up with something that both inspires and excites, but is a deliverable design that the city can get behind.”
A leading architect will be appointed to oversee the competition soon, with RIBA and Capital&Centric assembling a panel of experts to judge the applications. Four practices will be shortlisted from the initial applications, which will each get eight weeks to design their vision, with input from the panel.
Capital&Centric also plans to showcase the finalists’ designs at a local event, where the city’s residents will be able to have their say on what grabs their eye. The winning design will form the basis of the St George’s master plan, with planning applications to follow later this year.
Wolverhampton Council leader Stephen Simkins said: “The last time we worked with partners on a design competition it resulted in the delivery of the iconic i9 office building – home to the Government’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
“We now want the St George’s scheme to become the design and quality benchmark for future developments in the city and I expect to see a high standard of entries for this game-changing opportunity.
"As part of our ambitious regeneration plans, St George’s can provide an inclusive, safe and sustainable new district that will generate new opportunities and jobs, bring underutilised assets back into community use and, importantly, deliver much needed new homes in Wolverhampton city centre.
"We’re also excited that Capital&Centric will bring further social value to the city through Regeneration Brainery. This programme is aimed at 14 to 21-year-olds and is designed to inspire them to consider careers within property and regeneration, enhancing social mobility and making the industry more representative of society. Projects like St George’s offer the perfect opportunity for young people to experience regeneration in action on their doorstep.”
Capital&Centric’s appointment on the site was announced in December by the council, with the first step to develop a master plan for the former Sainsbury’s supermarket site, with links to the £61 million City Learning Quarter set to open in 2025.
St George’s is one of a number of development opportunities featured in the Wolverhampton Investment Prospectus.