A radical design transforming an old brownfield site in Ashford into the location for an international Parliament building, has been chosen as the winner of the Royal Institute of British Architects' (RIBA) 175 Schools Competition to design a Parliament for the future.
Eastbourne College's winning, teardrop shaped design captured the judges' imagination, and was commended for its consideration of sustainability issues. These included the use of local Kent building materials and thoughtful design that promotes energy efficiency, through techniques such as the use of natural light and water collection. The site was chosen for its ease of access to both London and the continent by rail, and for its potential to regenerate and bring new potential to a previously abandoned area.
Tavistock Community College was awarded second prize for their innovative design of an environmentally sustainable Parliament in Exeter, echoing the philosophy of the Eden Project. The judges were impressed with the team's scientific approach to design and use of new methods of technology, including ambitious proposals to power the new Parliamentary buildings by wind turbines.
Joint third prize was awarded to St Robert of Newminster Catholic School & Sixth Form College in Washington and Torquay Girls Grammar School. The St Robert team's proposal to relocate the new Parliament to Newcastle upon Tyne and transform the existing Parliament into a new hotel and holiday attraction won approval from the judges. They were particularly impressed by the quality and detail of the submission which included designs for a brochure for a Parliament brochure.
Torquay Girls Grammar School's design which relocates Parliament to the West Country impressed the judges with its attention to detail and imaginative approach to design. The team's plans to preserve the existing Palace of Westminster and use it as a Museum for Parliament History were also commended.
The Joseph Swan School team in Gateshead was highly commended for their exemplary presentation; judges were particularly impressed with the dramatic, domed design and the team's idea to relocate the new national Parliament to the site of the Angel of the North, using this as a focal point for a home for Northern Democracy.
Held as part of the RIBA's 175th anniversary celebrations in partnership with National Construction Showcase, part of ConstructionSkills, pupils aged 14-19 from 124 school teams across England and Wales were challenged to design a new Parliament building to meet the needs of Government in the 21st Century. Entries were judged on their design and their consideration of location, climate change and sustainability. Nine schools from across the country were shortlisted and have worked with an architect mentor to develop their exhibited designs.
The competition marks the 175th anniversaries of both the RIBA and of the completion of the current Palace of Westminster, after it was significantly damaged by fire in 1834 and rebuilt according to a design by Sir Charles Barry in 1844.
Speaking at the awards ceremony this evening, RIBA President Sunand Prasad said: "We have been very impressed by the hard work and quality of thought that has gone into the entries. It is heart-warming to see a real appreciation of sustainable design by the students and their enthusiasm for architecture."
All finalists' and shortlisted designs will be on display in the prestigious Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament from 7 - 17 July 2009.
Photos: Courtesy of RIBA