Winner - Urban Iinitiatives

Sponsored by EC Harris

If the popularity of virtual reality games like SimCity is anything to go by, turning the dry business of planning and developing regeneration schemes into a game is bound to be a winner.

Urban planning and design practice Urban Initiatives has tapped into this popular pastime, and come up with a game that simulates the design process for a large, city centre brownfield site. The idea is to demonstrate how all parties involved in a development influence the design process before they are let loose on a real scheme.

The usual suspects are all there including the developer and the planners, and a few mavericks that would inevitably appear in real life have been thrown in to spice things up, such as a Wildlife Trust officer and a community activist.

Using tiles on a board, they have to work out a design solution while considering issues such as housing density, percentages of affordable housing and public space. English Partnerships and the South East Centre of Excellence have used the game. If Urban Initiatives were to turn it into a web-based computer game they might even be able to turn planning into a national craze.

Runners up

Highly commended:

Dransfield Owens De Silva

Architect Dransfield Owens de Silva came up with a unique take on planning gain when turning a derelict print works for Barratt East London into housing. Southwark council wanted the building to retain some business use so, instead of evicting struggling artists, the architect turned part of the building into studios, with high ceilings, concrete floors and communal tea-making facilities.

AIG Engineering Group

Sorting out contaminated land is one of the biggest risks for anyone involved in regeneration, so the turnkey solution adopted by the AIG Engineering Group should catch people’s attention. It bought a difficult site in Ipswich, then decontaminated it with the aim of selling contamination-free plots to developers. This clearly worked as Crest Nicholson bought the site and got AIG Engineering Group to do the ground work for the development.

BASF Construction Chemicals and Hackney Homes

Keeping the cost of upgrading council homes down is imperative for local authorities so the housing arm of Hackney council, Hackney Homes, came up with new supply chain arrangements to improve efficiency. partnering with suppliers, including materials manufacturer BASF Construction Chemicals, early in the process saved both time and money when implementing its Decent Homes upgrade.

Peter Brett Associates

Creosote is nasty stuff if it is present in large quantities in the ground next to a stream. It is highly resistant to bio-degradation and removing the soil contaminated with it is expensive. Consultant Peter Brett Associates came up with a way of dealing with a site contaminated with it on the edge of Guildford that was 50% cheaper than removal. It injected chemicals into the ground that oxidised the creosote, turning it into environmentally friendly by-products. It also inserted a permeable reactive barrier around the contaminated area to retain any remaining creosote but allow ground water through.

United House

Social housing contractor United House worked with Network Housing Group and supermarket Sainsbury’s to create a 108-unit development over a Sainsbury’s car park near Wembley. United House came up with two further innovations to minimise disruption to shoppers and maximise space. It built a concrete podium over the car park as a base for the development, then constructed a seven-storey timber frame apartment block, the highest in the UK to date.