The RIBA have announced the winner of their competition in collaboration with the National Grid to give function to the sub-terrain voids left behind when the steel frame of a gasholder is dismantled. Outpost, the winning London studio, proposed a mixed-use scheme for a ring of four storey buildings descending into the well below. The other shortlisted teams included CF Architects, 318 Studio, Max Architects, Wilson Owens Owens Architects and Jan Verhagen and Priscille Rodriguez of Unit Architects.
Outpost’s proposal solves Britain’s shortage of affordable housing and creates an opportunity for flexible workshops, studios and workspaces to be integrated into the structure. The simple, economical vision makes full use of the gasholder base and presents a familiar domestic setting on street level, appearing as one storey.
Enthralled by the circular arrangement of the mixed-use modules, Outpost inspires a vibrant community influenced by the earth walled structures of the Tulou villages of the Hakka community in China that uses the circular form for the internally composition of their timber buildings.
A unanimous decision by the judges, Outpost’s inventive approach particularly impressed them:
The decision to build out from the base structures, effectively lining the inside wall with a timber framed, modular construction, is inventive yet pragmatic, the serrated roofline presenting a unique but familiar domestic appearance to the surrounding. - Russ Davenport, Faulkner Browns, RIBA Adviser
Internally, the space is radically different, enthused by the industrial background of the voids it is reminiscent of the tall, narrow dockyard buildings and provides a lower courtyard space centred around foliage sprouting out of the hole.
We are excited that our sites can see a greater potential and purchasers will be inspired by these, and all the great ideas submitted will result in sites being brought back into beneficial use in a sustainable way. - Gasholder Demolition Manager Laura Watson.