Designed by JaK Studio Architects, their second prize winning proposal for the RIBA International Competition to Re-imagining York’s Giuldhall Complex: Connecting River and City re-energizes the area by focusing on its history while embracing the future. When the Romans settled in this outpost of their empire, they were still keen to establish some of the rigor and grandeur of Rome. To echo this we cleared the open ground around the guildhall and reclaimed two large plazas cascading down to river providing unique and accessible public spaces with direct relationships to the river. More images and architects’ description after the break.
A Million Voices; York city is essentially a multicultural story as modern as it is old. In many ways it’s no different now than it was back at the beginning of the first millennium when the first settlers gathered together on the banks of the Ouse to cultivate and shelter against a harsh climate through empires, invasions, conquests, wars and economic crisis. Like all cities it’s is an interwoven collective of human stories with hopes for the future. Our concept to bring the York riverfront back to life is rooted in the human story of millions of voices. We started with the ground itself – the moors, the dales and coastline – the rugged, hardy yet beautiful soil that so many travellers decided to inhabit. Swaths of wild grass, natural rock faces and clusters of stones scatter the site as a timely reminder of the ground beneath our feet and the environment around us.
A central promenade walkway with a stone marker at each end reconnects the bridge with the central hub and guildhall courtyard as the main access of pedestrian flow. Strategically located behind the North side of the Guildhall lies an innovation centre for creative and high-tech companies – an environmentally conscious development powered by a mixture of sustainable energy from solar panels through to ground source heating. The ‘pixel box’ clad in LED modular panels addresses the public market square with every pixel an opportunity for a voice to be heard – a digital speakers corner for the free-thinkers and the dreamers.
The vision for the future? Well any vision of the future is really just a reflection of the past and our aspirations for the days ahead. As the historian Robert Fisk once wrote, the present and future are nothing but the ‘echo chamber’ of time. Our proposed vision is a human one rather than a grand utopian gesture: to respect the past, experience the present and embrace the future.