Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Architects to design tower block – for Animals!

By Marguerite Lazell

Leeds-based Garnett Netherwood Architects has won a quirky competition to design a tower block for animals.

The 12m-high towers - proposed for the Holbeck Urban Village project in the city centre - are designed using recycled materials from demolished buildings to provide a habitat for various forms of wildlife.

The competition encouraged architects to consider how man and beast could “live in harmony” and the winning practice hopes the towers could provide a home for species which could range from bees and insects to swifts, bats, otters, foxes and rodents.

Associate Neil Oxlee told BD that local knowledge had been key to the practice's success in the competition, which attracted 31 entries from around the world.

He said: "Because we're Leeds-based, we knew the area quite well - we thought we had a chance."

Oxlee added that the specification of the towers would be dictated by the materials discarded by the demolition of buildings in the area.

"In Holbeck there's lots of old buildings being knocked down, and site waste is a massive issue,” he said. “You could use steel frames, roof materials… it would be an organic process where you see what you've got."

Competition judge and chair of RIBA Yorkshire Geoff Ward said: "The design had the right balance of ambition alongside a sensitive understanding of the local environment. Also, its high visibility gives it potential to be a focal point for engaging and attracting the community."

The winning entry will be on display at Round Foundry Media Centre throughout June. The other 30 designs will be framed and on display at venues around the Holbeck Urban Village.