The UK National Grid Property and RIBA recently concluded an ideas competition that challenged emerging architects to find creative future uses for gasholder bases, the sub-surface circular voids left by decommissioned gasholders. The National Grid Property plans to dismantle gasholders across the UK in the coming years.
Out of over 100 submissions, Waterloo-based Outpost Architecture & Design was crowned the winner with their mixed-use proposal, which comprises affordable housing and flexible workshop spaces surrounding a sunken, communal courtyard. Outpost co-founders and longtime friends Robin Sjoholm and Thomas Housden, who launched the practice in 2016, drew inspiration from the earth-walled Tulou villages of the Hakka community in China.
The jury also awarded a High Commendation to WOO (Wilson Owens Owens Architects) for their sports arena proposal. Other shortlisted firms included 318 Studio, CF.Architects, Jan Verhagen and Priscille Rodriguez, and MAX Architects.
Read on for more about Outpost's winning entry.
“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,” Outpost said.
“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,” Outpost continues
“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,” Outpost continued.
“Their cost effective, sustainable design proposal provides an appropriate response to a shortage of affordable housing and workshop spaces across the country...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,” commented RIBA Adviser Russ Davenport of Faulkner Browns.
All images and project text courtesy of RIBA.
Get a glimpse of the shortlisted ideas in the gallery below. Find more about the top entries from RIBA.
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