Design Competition Paves Way For New Public Spaces at Albert Embankment

26th October 2015

St James, RCA Design Commission

Design conscious developer, St James, has joined forces with the Royal College of Art to launch a competition that will award a team of postgraduate students a design commission for the innovative new public realm being created in the regeneration of Albert Embankment.

The Multi-Use Public Space project will be undertaken by students of the RCA MA Architecture programme. Curated by placemaking agency, Futurecity, it aims to inspire concepts for an innovative, future-facing design series that will support a range of public uses including socialising, working, dining and play.

St James first established a partnership with the RCA in 2013, creating the dedicated StudioRCA exhibition and performance space at its 813-home Riverlight development, which was the first riverside scheme to be completed in the Nine Elms opportunity area.

Committed to the use of art and design in the creation of thriving vibrant places, the developer has teamed up with the world-leading educational institution for its regeneration of the Albert Embankment where it is creating 433 new homes, offices, cafes and restaurants across three landmark developments. Over half the 1.6 acre riverfront site will be dedicated to open public space.

SeanEllis, Chairman of St James, comments: "At St James, we are committed to creating vibrant places where people want to live, work, play and spend time - now and in the future.

"High quality and interactive public space is fundamental in creating desirable destinations with a strong identity; they must be meaningful and genuinely engaging for all potential users. Our Riverlight development is the latest example of this, featuring not only the new StudioRCA cultural space, but also art-led open spaces with interactive installations by leading artists such as Kate Davis and David Moore, Simon and Tom Bloor, and Peter Newman.

"This latest partnership with the RCA is especially exciting; giving the next generation of designers the opportunity to develop the creative identity of what is the gateway to Nine Elms."

Albert Embankment - Bridging New & Existing Cultural Destinations
The Albert Embankment represents the gateway to the 481 acre Nine Elms on South Bank regeneration area and borders the well-established cultural district of the South Bank.

The site plays an important role in extending and continuing this thriving cultural scene into the opportunity area; creating a bridge between the existing and new riverside destinations. Situated opposite Tate Britain, it is identified as one of a series of 'cultural stepping stones' extending the success of the South Bank from The Shard to Battersea Power Station.

St James is creating three distinctive new developments as part of the Albert Embankment regeneration: The Corniche, designed by acclaimed 'starchitect', Foster + Partners; Merano Residences by Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners; and The Dumont by David Walker Architects.

The Role of Design in Public Space
The Multi-Use Public Space commission will help to extend the concentrated cultural activity of the South Bank. It aims to create a design icon for Albert Embankment, equal to the landmark architecture that is interactive and suitable for daily use within the public realm.

The successful concept will be accessible to a wide range of audiences from residents and their guests, to office workers, café and restaurant visitors; accommodating uses including rest and relaxation, socialising, work and play.

Adrian Lahoud, Head of Architecture Programme, RCA, adds: "The Multi-Use Public Space project at Albert Embankment draws on RCA Architecture's experience and knowledge of designing for the public realm, following the Helix Studio with St Mary's Hospital, Paddington and Wembley Windows with Brent Council. We are delighted to receive this 'Live Project' student commission from St James and to work with Futurecity and the GLA in designing a new space that is relevant for Londoners."

Final designs will be presented on 10 December 2015 to a panel of judges including representatives from RCA, St James, Futurecity and the GLA, with the winner announced during a public exhibition early 2016.

MarkDavy,FounderandDirectorofFuturecity,comments:"It's becoming increasingly important that new public realm spaces in London should be designed with purpose. It's time to take an original approach to the design, use and ownership of the public realm whether it's through a partnership with the community, a green strategy, bespoke street furniture or public art - this is one of many original approaches to placemaking adopted by St James."

St James started work on the Albert Embankment regeneration in 2013 and all three developments are due for completion in 2019.

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