CJ Lim’s Studio 8 Architects, Rotterdam-based Maxwan, and London-based firms Piercy Conner and Moxon have been shortlisted in an RIBA competition to design a premium four-storey, 3,700sq m office development in Preston, Lancashire.

The practices have been selected along with New York-based Stephen Yablon Architects and Hamburg’s LH Architekten to draw up plans for a private commercial property management client.

Entrants have been asked to produce an “exceptional piece of architecture” with a strong visual presence.

The scheme is valued at £6 million, above the typical cost of a commercial development of the same size in the area of around £3.6 million.

Nazar Sayigh, director of Glas Architects and a judging panellist alongside architect Ian Simpson and Urban Splash’s Nick Johnson, said the contest, which received more than 50 entries, had provided an “enlightening snapshot” of current architectural thinking.

He said: “The standard was very high, with the majority of teams entering comprehensive submissions with evocative diagrams, drawings and images.”

The client has requested a two-storey atrium and wants a flexible building employing the latest environmental techniques.

The six firms will make further presentations to the panel before a winner is announced in October.