April 25, 2018

SMAR Architecture Studio appointed to design Science Island


Kaunas City Municipality announced this week the appointment of SMAR Architecture Studio, based in Australia and Spain, to design Lithuania’s new National Science and Innovation Centre, known colloquially as Science Island.

SMAR was the highest ranked of three winners in the Science Island International Design Contest, which attracted 144 teams from 44 countries and was the most popular design competition ever held in Lithuania.

The appointment completes the Negotiated Procedure without Publication of a Contract Notice – the second stage of the process following the original Design Contest; both processes were run to Lithuanian procurement regulations.

The new €25m science centre is expected to open a year in advance of Kaunas’ tenure as European Capital of Culture 2022. It will be located within a 33 hectare site on Nemunas Island in the Nemunas River, a short walk from Kaunas’ historic Centras district and close to its celebrated universities. SMAR will collaborate with the Lithuanian practice, UAB Architektų biuras G. Natkevičius ir partneriai.

© SMAR Architecture Studio

A spokesperson for Kaunas City Municipality said:

 “Science Island is an emblematic project for Kaunas that will showcase recent achievements in science and global technologies, with the aim of inspiring visitors to expand their knowledge and support innovation in these fields.

 “We very much look forward to working with SMAR on the initiative and unlocking the potential of this beautiful site in the centre of the city.”

 Dr. Fernando Jerez, Founder and Creative Director of SMAR Architecture Studio, said:

 “We are delighted to have won the project and our team looks forward to realising our vision along with the local team, Kaunas City Municipality and the people of Kaunas. This is a unique opportunity on a fantastic site, not just for Kaunas but for Lithuania and Europe.

 “The Science Island competition sparked our imaginations: we were prompted to visit the city, which resulted in an immediate connection with Kaunas that was reflected in our design. We anticipate the finished building will be an invigorating experience, drawing new audiences.

 “Our proposal for Science Island follows the island’s topography to find a deep connection with nature and with the city. On the roof, circular access points will work as public stages and natural seating areas, our aim being that the museum spills into the landscape and the park comes into the building.

 “The existing landscape gives shape to the Innovation Centre, which is topped by a sloping and reflecting upper disk: a landmark for the city. This will be a new sun for Kaunas, a bright, shining sun – evidence that Science is always awake searching for new answers.”

 Malcolm Reading, Competition Director and jury chair, said:

 “Congratulations to SMAR on winning the project: they were brilliantly adventurous in their concept design and patient in seeing the negotiations through.  This was a competition that drew an exceptional global following, which was a huge credit to Kaunas.

 “Science Island has the ingredients to be a major international success: a well-conceived project, a very committed client and an outstanding design team.”

 SMAR will now complete the detailed design by February 2019 and the project is expected to open in 2021, ahead of Kaunas’ term as European Capital of Culture 2022.

SimpsonHaugh and Partners (United Kingdom) and Donghua Chen Studio (China) were the two runner-up practices awarded honoraria of €15,000. In addition, five teams received an honourable mention: Amid.cero9 / Elsewhere (Spain); Mark Foster Gage Architects (USA); Alper Derinbogaz, Salon (Turkey); UAB Architektų biuras G. Natkevičius ir partneriai (Lithuania); and Wolfgang Tschapeller ZTGmbH (Austria).

The entries were judged by an eminent jury, comprising: Audrius Ambrasas, Director, Audrius Ambrasas Architects; Jonas Audėjaitis, Dean of Vilnus Academy of Arts’ Kaunas Faculty, and Member of Kaunas City Council; Paul Baker, Director, WilkinsonEyre; Sumit Paul-Choudhury, formerly Editor-in-Chief and now  Strategy Director and Editor Emeritus, New Scientist; Povilas Mačiulis, Vice Mayor, Kaunas City Municipality; Rainer Mahlamäki, Professor and Founder, Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects; Rolandas Maskoliūnas, Chief Press Officer, Lithuanian Academy of Sciences; and Christos Passas, Associate Director, Zaha Hadid Architects. The jury was chaired by Malcolm Reading.

The design contest for this exceptional site in the UNESCO designated, and celebrated university city, Kaunas, encompassed the design of the Centre and an urban integration plan for Nemunas Island.

Images: © SMAR Architecture Studio


Trafford Council extends consultation on former Manchester United players’ Turn Moss plans


Trafford Council has extended the consultation period on plans to build a football training ground on Turn Moss in Stretford after the proposals attracted a deluge of objections from local residents, with 1,600 representations received as of last Thursday.

The plans by Academy 92, headed up by former footballers Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs, and Nicky Butt, are to build a training ground for Salford City FC, including four training pitches, an office, and a gym converted from an existing storage facility.

There will also be a new floodlit pitch for public use alongside a café, children’s play area, and changing facilities.

First revealed as part of the council’s Stretford masterplan earlier this year, the proposals have attracted fierce opposition from local residents, with more than 1,600 letters of representation sent to council planners at the time of writing.

Local groups, including Save Turn Moss, have criticised the plans, as has Trafford’s Green Party, which said the proposals “bear all the hallmarks of a hastily and poorly-constructed approach”, and argued the plans were “clearly in contravention” of policies including the National Planning Policy Framework and green belt policy.

As a result of the surge of public representation, the consultation period has been extended to Wednesday 18 April, and the likely date of the planning committee to discuss the proposals is Thursday 17 May. Save Turn Moss said it expected representations to “significantly increase in the next few days” to exceed 2,000.

Despite the opposition, leader of Trafford Council Sean Anstee took to social media to defend the plans, arguing there would be “no change to how Turn Moss can be accessed”.

He added the land would remain owned by the council, with the land leased to Salford FC for 10 years, and said the new sports facilities would “encourage more participation in sport” across the borough.

The pitches, he said, would only take up 10% of the total area of Turn Moss, and added the land the pitches are based on “has not been hired for sport since 2015 due to drainage problems”.

In a statement, Trafford Council’s local planning authority said: “The consultation carried out by the LPA on the Turn Moss planning application has led to a large amount of information being submitted by interested parties, which has required the LPA to request further information from the applicant to address these issues.

“Statutory and other consultees also need sufficient time to consider this information and respond. As the period in which consultees may respond is being extended, the LPA consider this opportunity should also be given to other interested parties.”

The professional team on the project includes Re-Form Landscape Architecture, which has created the scheme’s design & access statement; and How as planner.

Trafford Council started a consultation on the Stretford masterplan in October last year, and brought forward a refreshed document following feedback from local residents in January.

Central to the masterplan is the UA92 development, a sports, media, and business-focussed university on the Kellogg’s site on Talbot Road and Brian Statham Way.

This will include student accommodation, teaching space, and a new leisure centre to replace the existing Streford Leisure Centre. The site will also include around 160,000 sq ft of office and university space, a 184-bed hotel, and 154 apartments.

The council has already kicked off development of UA92 by agreeing to purchase a vacant office block on Chester Road for conversion into student accommodation.


The importance of greenspace to be discussed at Glasgow Caledonian University


The importance of greenspace for youngsters growing up in Scotland will be discussed at an event at Glasgow Caledonian University this summer.

The annual Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) Forum will celebrate 2018 as Year of Young People, exploring how the needs and rights of children should be at the heart of decision-making locally and globally.

Experts attending this year’s event will include architect Hanna Johansson, who has been instrumental in transforming Billund into Denmark’s Capital of Children.

The Danish city is leading the way with a 30-year plan to create a biodiverse space, or ‘holistic urban environment’ for both children and grown ups.Keith Geddes, chair of CSGN, said: “Fundamentally, we all recognise the importance of greenspace and outdoor activities for healthy, active children and young people.

“From the importance of child-friendly urban design and access to the natural environment through to children’s health and mental well-being and positive educational outcomes.

“The Forum will look at international and local examples of good practice, and explore the challenges we face and the opportunities available to us in creating an environment in which children and young people can participate actively in the development and use of a high quality built and natural environment.”

Also attending is Adam White, president elect of the landscape institute, and part of the team that designed the regenerated Cuningar Loop Woodland Park, a £5.7 million legacy project from the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

He said: “A well designed play space should create a sense of place, unique to anywhere else and offer reasonable risk allowing children to explore their own imagination whilst reconnecting them with nature.

“Our Cuningar Loop project shows how the entire landscape can offer play value and not just a corner of a park or garden. Think grassy mounds, playful planting, tunnels, boulders, beaches, bridges and, cycle tracks all complemented by robust timber play equipment.”

The plan from CSGN is to transform the central belt into a place where the environment adds value to the economy and enriches people’s lives.

For more info on the 2018 forum, head to centralscotlandgreennetwork.org/forum.


London’s newest retail & leisure destination launched at Battersea Power Station


Battersea Power Station Development Company is today launching London’s newest retail and leisure destination that will house the best and brightest collection of British and international brands in one of the world’s most iconic buildings.

Millions of people will visit the Power Station once it reopens and is brought back to life in 2020. They will be able to take advantage of the wide range of shops planned as well as a food hall that will provide local visitors, residents, tourists, shoppers and workers with a huge variety of places to eat, drink, engage and interact.

The two turbine halls will house the vast array of carefully curated brands from around the world in just over a hundred units.

Turbine Hall A, which was built in the 1930s and evokes the lavish Art Deco glamour of its era, will be home to the Premium Collection, brands that portray elegance, sophistication and timeless style while Turbine Hall B, completed in the 1950s, has a sparer aesthetic and will bring together contemporary brands providing an eclectic mix of younger, faster and more diverse names.

Apple, one of the most famous brands in the world, has already pre-let 500,000 sq ft of offices within the building.

When completed, Battersea Power Station will be the third largest retail destination in Central London, comparable in scope to Oxford Street and just as centrally located. Getting to the area could not be easier. MBNA Thames Clippers delivers you to the door of the Power Station while the Northern Line is being extended to give the site its own Northern Line tube station.

The Power Station will not just be visited by those looking to do their shopping, but by the millions of people who will be visiting Circus West Village to eat at one of the many fantastic restaurants or bars that have recently opened, take in an event at The Village Hall, enjoy the new park being created or simply have a coffee overlooking The Thames. The area is already becoming one of London’s most exciting new food and drink destinations.

Visitors will also come to see the Power Station itself – it has been a huge attraction on Open House days already – to ride the chimney lift for amazing London views, to see the remarkable A and B Control Rooms and to do business at the Apple offices in the Power Station or the new US Embassy nearby.

Simon Murphy, Deputy CEO and CFO of Battersea Power Station Development Company, said: “The retail offering here will form a key part of a new London destination we are creating at Battersea Power Station. Locals and those from across Britain and the world will be coming here for all sorts of reasons, including being able to go into one of the world’s most recognisable buildings.

“On behalf of our Malaysian shareholders, we are looking forward to fully opening this iconic building to the public for the first time so that it can be enjoyed for generations to come.”


Local authorities and developers must work together to boost the quality of new developments

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has launched two new resources for developers and local authorities designed to help boost housing standards and improve social value outcomes.The first resource takes the form of a Housing Standards Playbook – to support local authorities drive up the sustainability of new homes through policy.

UKGBC’s housing standards playbook urges local authorities to act consistently to:

  • Set a standard for all new homes to be built to 19% improvements compared to current national minimum on carbon reduction
  • Commit to a policy for all new homes to be net zero carbon in operation from 2030 at the latest
  • Require developers to demonstrate they have acted to mitigate against overheating risk, and have acted to close the performance gap

The second resource, Social Value in New Development, is guidance for developers and local authorities to help deliver social value outcomes in new residential and commercial developments.

The guidance looks at social value, its stakeholders, strategies for driving positive outcomes and measuring success, and the current barriers to delivery. It provides a detailed overview of the outcomes and opportunities the consideration of social value in development can provide across three key areas: jobs and economic growth; health, wellbeing and the environment; and strength of community.

The resources were launched at a packed UKGBC event in Bristol, which brought together local authorities, developers and other industry stakeholders to discuss how to deliver better outcomes.

Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive at UKGBC said:
“Raising the bar on standards for new homes and tackling energy and climate change are fundamental to delivering the high-quality, efficient, and healthy new homes we need.“Sustainable development can deliver a wide range of benefits not only to residents, but to communities and cities at large. This comes through boosting local economies and quality of life through activities such as: providing jobs and apprenticeships; upgrading social and community facilities; and driving health & wellbeing through the provision of nature and green space.

“We hope that these resources can help drive further collaboration between local authorities and developers to deliver truly sustainable development.”