Soar Island International Ideas Competition

Sponsor: RIBA

Location: Leicester, UK

Type: Open, international, ideas, two stage

Languages: English

Eligibility: The competition is open internationally to registered architects and landscape architects only. Architects should be registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB) in the UK, or an equivalent, recognised overseas regulatory authority.

Fee: £50+VAT

Awards: Each shortlisted designer will receive an honorarium of £5,000 + VAT and be invited to present their designs to the judging panel in June 2015. The selected winner will receive an additional £5,000 prize money.

Process: The competition will follow the Open Ideas format and will be organised in the following stages:

Stage 1 – Submission of concept designs which will be assessed anonymously.
Stage 2 – A shortlist of up to five designs will be selected and invited to submit and present their enhanced ideas to the judging panel.


17 March 2015 – Stage One submission deadline

25 May 2015 – Stage Two submission deadline

Design Challenge: Architects and Landscape Architects are invited to take part in a competition which seeks ideas for the future use of Soar Island, located in the middle of the River Soar in Leicester.

This architectural competition focuses on one site within Waterside-a unique piece of land which is expected to be brought forward in one of the first phases of Waterside development. Soar Island is, as the name suggests, an island within the River Soar and Grand Union Canal. Rally Park-an area of recently improved open space sits immediately to the west across the water. Connected with a network of bridges-both vehicle and footbridges, the site is just 10 minutes’ walk from the city centre. At 2.15 acres (0.87 ha) the site is currently a mixture of industrial works, open space and woodland, but Leicester City Council believe it offers unrealised potential in the form of a mixed-use (housing, commercial, community or leisure) that includes high quality open space and public realm and, enables public access to the island. It requires a special approach with a design that enhances the contribution Soar Island makes to the biodiversity of the area. Soar Island is at one of the most interesting parts of the river. It needs to include a use which creates an attractive destination that draws people to it, where they can enjoy being by the river. It is a distinctive and highly visible site and is well connected.

The competition is being launched to raise the profile of Leicester Waterside ahead of major regeneration in the area. It is important to note that Leicester City Council is unlikely to be the developer of the site, instead; the outcome of this competition will provide a guide for the future use of the site. Whilst the Council is already a significant land owner in the area and has acquired a number of sites to help facilitate large-scale development, it is currently considering options for its role in bringing forward development. The council will be preparing an outline planning application for submission in July 2015. The outline application will include this site and the competition’s winning entry may be used to inform the final content of this application masterplan. The winner will be guaranteed publicity as part of the final announcement however; it will be at the discretion of the ‘developer’ as to whether they chose to take forward the winning design through to development.

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