As London’s ever-changing façade continuously undergoes incredibly exciting changes and transformations, the Vauxhall area proves that it can keep up with the adapting environment.
Vauxhall, often branded as the ‘Missing Link’ between the New US Embassy Quarter and London’s South Bank, is set to receive a new lease of life following Vauxhall One’s International Design Competition.
The future home of the American Embassy and currently accommodating MI6, Vauxhall is well known for its established roaring nightlife scene but unfortunately is also often characterised by its unwelcoming and distinctive network of railways arches strewn across the area. At the heart of the Nine Elms on the South Bank, the £15 billion opportunity area between Lambeth Bridge and Chelsea Bridge is long overdue an architectural face-lift.
Vauxhall One, working with the RIBA, Landscape Institute and the Garden Museum, launched the exciting international design competition in January 2013. The scheme invited individuals to present inspired and innovative design concepts to improve the Public Realm of the Vauxhall area.
The entries were judged by a panel of high profile figures, including the President of RIBA, Angela Brady, according to a number of progressive and constructive criteria including opportunities for green intervention, originality, practicality and sustainability, and appropriateness in relation to existing developments, so as to ensure a considered and complimenting public realm.
The aim of the project is to reconnect the vastly disconnected elements of the neighbourhood and create instead a strikingly innovative landscape between Nine Elms and the cultural offerings of London’s South Bank area. RIBA Public Realm and Development Director, Chris Law, described to The Positive the aim of the scheme to be ‘to link the emerging gallery district with a series of innovative art and light installations in the railway arches of Vauxhall and Nine Elms, to create sustainable green links to the River Thames from the local green parks in Vauxhall and Nine Elms and to enhance the overall green prospects of the public realm in Vauxhall and Nine Elms on the South Bank’.
The first element of this – the Regeneration of the Rail Arches – is already successfully underway with the hope agreement on all twelve arches in the area will be in place by 2017. Working with Network Rail, Lambeth Council and the developers, Vauxhall One has effectively initiated the development programme, linking a developer and their architect to a particular arch in which to create a distinctive design.
The short-listed winners of Vauxhall One’s international design competition for the redesign of the Vauxhall area of Nine Elms on the South Bank, announced in mid-April, are now coming to the end of their development month, in which the finalists were able to expand upon their initial design concepts in line with the GLA Green Infrastructure Audit. The shortlisted entries are as follows: Erect Architecture with J&L Gibbons from London, Cedric Chausse and Charlotte Portier from London, and Blank Architects from Moscow, with Frances Kellerman, Jeffrey Ziemann, Taylor Massey and Lauren Richter from the University of Texas, Austin taking the prize for Student Winner.
After each of the winners receiving a prize of £2,000, the student winner receiving £500, the three shortlisted entries will now present their developed concepts to the judging panel, who will decide upon a final winner to join the Vauxhall One team on the five year programme of work. Law said that ‘the winners should be commissioned shortly to create the Urban Design Framework for the Vauxhall Business Improvement District, called ‘Doing the Vauxhall walk’’, an exciting opportunity to showcase their innovative and creative concepts for the development of the Vauxhall area.