RIBA announces gasholder competition winner

In the Difference Engine feature of New Design 130 we reported on a RIBA competition to find a creative use for gasholder bases, the sub-surface voids left behind once an old gasholder has been dismantled.

Six entries were shortlisted and today architecture and design practice Outpost were announced as winners for their concept involving a circular landscape of mixed-use development.

“Outpost presented a beautifully simple vision in their submission for which they should be commended. Their cost effective, sustainable design proposal provides an appropriate response to a shortage of affordable housing and workshop spaces across the country,” said RIBA advisor Russ Davenport of Faulkner Browns. “The decision to build out from the base structures, effectively lining the inside wall with a timber framed, modular construction, is inventive yet pragmatic, the serrated roofline presenting a unique but familiar domestic appearance to the surrounding. Key to their success was close attention to the brief and a solution which could easily provide a sustainable future for the country’s stock of gasholder bases.”

An Outpost representative added: “The UK has a well-publicised shortage of affordable housing and somewhat less publicised, but of equal note, shortage of affordable flexible workshops, studios and workspaces in our towns and cities. We saw the opportunity to develop a proposal that addressed these national issues in a simple and economical way.

We really enjoyed the opportunity of the gasholder bases competition. We were able to develop a familiar, domestic, human-scale development at street level. Unusual though in its condition on the curve, and when experienced against another gasholder base on the curve. Then a radically different internal experience, more evocative of the industrial landscape of tall narrow dockyard buildings, arranged around a large sunken communal courtyard, with a focal point of planting and trees at its centre.

We believe that the dense circular arrangement of mixed-use modules has the potential to generate a strong and vibrant community. We drew inspiration from the unique Tulou villages of the Hakka community of China, that are earth walled structures, typically in circular form, with timber constructed buildings arranged internally, that house an entire village community.”

The competition was organised in conjunction with National Grid. The idea of transforming the gasholder bases into indoor and outdoor sports venues proposed by WOO Architects was also highly commended by the judging panel.