We showcase the best entries in our Building [Re]Design competition

This summer Building Design became Building [Re]Design and launched the Stratford Design Challenge.

Redesign Stratford logo 2

We invited you to examine the east London town centre, identify an issue that interested you and had resonance further afield and then - in less than 500 words and one image - propose a solution.

We particularly encouraged early-career architects and students to participate and assembled an influential panel of judges to scrutinise the entries (see box, below).

Here we present more of the nine shortlisted entries.

All the finalists will be celebrated at the Architect of the Year Awards (AYAs) on October 14, when we will also announce the judges’ decision.

Book your tickets to the AYAs here.

Alongside the competition, the Stratford Design Challenge invited leading urban thinkers to contribute to a series of thought leadership pieces. Those published so far can be found here.

>> Also read: Stratford Design Challenge finalists: part I

>> Also read: Stratford Design Challenge finalists: part II


5/ Sharing and Caring

By Catja de Haas, Catja de Haas Architects

0057-Sharing and Caring - Building [Re]Design

Sharing and Caring by Catja de Haas, Catja de Haas Architects

Government research shows that the car is still the most popular form of transport. Only trips of under a mile are taken on foot. That means that a large part of local trips, under five miles are done by car. If all local trips would be done by foot or bicycle car traffic would be drastically reduced. In this proposal the road has been refigured: a bus lane runs through the middle and on both sides of the bus lane the road is shared by cars and cyclists. Therefor cars have to adapt to the speed of the bicycles which in turn will encourage people to leave the car at home. The pavements are wide and house playgrounds, bicycle storage and gardens. The edge between terrace and road collects water and along this collector plants grow.

Buildings protrude into the high street. The road meanders and has a clear beginning and end. The high street becomes a destination rather than a through Road.

The new buildings link the hinter-laying housing neighbourhoods to the high street. Sometimes as ‘portal buildings’. These hold functions that are relevant to the houses as well as the high street:

nurseries, after-school-clubs, crafts clubs, welcoming groups and home-schooling hubs. In the high street there can be shops and workshops run by local dressmakers, bakers, re-useables, green building consultants, storytellers, joiners, gardeners and perhaps aquaponic vegetables. There could be a doctor’s surgery and small offices for tech companies, banks, lawyers and architects. The latter can be start-ups, or satellite offices of larger firms. The offices might attract local youth as apprentices that they might not have come across in large towers. The lack of large offices means people won’t fall into ‘group think’, which happens if too many similar people work together. The offices can sponsor or adopt smaller start-ups and shops. Not only the cars and the bicycles share the surface, but the office resources can be shared too.

All new buildings have roofs on their gardens and all existing flat roofs have received green space in order to improve the air quality. All green can also be edible to create an urban orchard.

The top floors of the large office towers can be converted to housing and perhaps the local hotel can also sponsor a hostel for the homeless. Clients in restaurants can pay for extra meals so people who have a hard time finding food will be looked after. Not only the cars and the bicycles share the surface, but the people share space and produce.

Many people enjoyed their new-found communities during lockdown and were glad they didn’t have to commute. The proposal for the new Stratford high street is perhaps idealistic but offers no radical new ideas, rather a subtle reordering of roads and buildings, greenery, cars and bicycles in order to tackle the issues of poverty, climate change and homelessness. The high street, where from the beginning of time everyone in the community came together can be a new start.


6/ The Green Heart of Stratford

By Alcina Lo, part I at Andreas Lechthaler Architecture

0075-The Green Heart of Stratford - Building [Re]Design

The Green Heart of Stratford by Alcina Lo, Andreas Lechthaler Architecture

The Green Heart of Stratford focuses on three key themes: green space and biodiversity, multi-generational public space and civic ownership.

The design proposes that only one mall is needed in the town, rather than creating a competition between Stratford Centre and Westfield Shopping Centre.

The Green Heart extends the existing green space from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park into Stratford Town centre, creating a pedestrian link of public green space. The Stratford Centre mall currently acts as a traffic island and barrier in which residents need to pass through to access public transport, which closes in the evening, hence is not truly public space. The proposal will provide better accessibility for residents living in the South of Stratford to the transport hub and the rest of Stratford, divided by the rail and road.

The Green Heart will link the visitors of Westfield, the Olympic Park, the residents of South Stratford and the new residential communities beyond the rail and road into a well connected town with an identifiable civic centre.

Local businesses currently in Stratford Centre will be relocated to be accessible along the fringe of the Green Heart, encouraging those passing the new open space to visit. Rather than building new residential apartments, residential developments within the Green Heart emphasises the refurbishment of existing buildings along the fringe, with the ground floor used for local businesses, reducing the carbon emissions from demolishment and new-build as well as to retain the heritage of the buildings. In addition, sustainable residential developments will fill some gaps.

The proposal retains heritage assets and listed buildings to form points of interest for visitors to the town. New green walking routes provide ease of access from the Green Heart to places of leisure such as the Theatre Royal Stratford East, which is currently only accessible from Great Eastern Road.

The Green Heart is a cathartic space where residents of Stratford regardless of background can relax. The green space differs from its urban surroundings and promotes physical health by providing space for physical activity and mental health by being in nature. The trees in the Green Heart reduce the pollutants and noise in from bordering transports, creating an enjoyable calm space. Generations are also integrated into the same space by different activities to cultivate multi-generational community spirit, such as a skatepark for the existing skating subculture, a community garden for those living in apartments or enjoy gardening and mini golf as a family activity, all connected by a central path and lake.

The civic ownership of the Green Heart from local businesses, users of the community garden, skaters and users of the golf course provide passive surveillance through community activity, ensuring the safety of those passing through Green Heart throughout the day.

Overall, the Green Heart of Stratford aims to integrate existing residents with new ones through multi-generational social spaces, civic ownership and shared public space, a struggling commercial space is replaced by a new civic heart, which the people of Stratford can be proud of.


The full set of shortlisted entries will appear on Building Design’s website, our newsletters and social media in the run up to the AYAs. 

All the finalists

Catja de Haas, Catja de Haas Architects

Alcina Lo, Andreas Lechthaler Architecture

Fahad Malik, Wadhal

Lizzie McHugh, EWA

Anna Muray and Jack Lynton-Jenkins, O3S

James Prior, O3S

Sanaa Shaikh, Native Studio

Chris Simmons, Studio Chris Simmons

Kirsty Watt, Gras

lauren_headshots_Stratford Design Challenge judges

The Stratford Design Challenge judges

Pam Alexander, urban regeneration specialist, director of London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) and Connected Places Catapult, chair of digital community engagement company Commonplace.

Phil Askew, landscape and placemaking director at Peabody working on £8bn Thamesmead regeneration. From 2008-17 he led on the landscape and public realm transformation of the Olympic Park into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Siu-Pei Choi, senior design manager at Wates Residential. Graduating from the Bartlett, she previously worked as an architect at Patel Taylor, Levitt Bernstein, Fraser Brown Mackenna and HTA, specialising in residential and regeneration schemes.

Melissa Dowler, director of Bell Phillips Architects and an external examiner at Greenwich and Westminster architecture schools. She has extensive experience of regeneration and residential projects working with local authorities and private-sector clients.

Kathryn Firth, partner in FPdesign, is an architect and urban designer. She was chief of design at the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) from 2011-14. She also teaches at Harvard and the Bartlett, is a mayor’s design advocate and serves on several design review panels.

Lanre Gbolade is production innovation lead at Stratford-based L&Q and co-founder of Gbolade Design Studio, with experience on large-scale residential projects. He serves on RIBA practice & profession committee and is a founding member of Paradigm Network promoting black and Asian representation in the built environment.

Tom Holbrook, founding partner of 5th Studio which specialises in complex urban regeneration, sustainability and the resilience of cities. Current work includes masterplans around Stratford and the Royal Docks. He is a mayor’s design advocate and professor of architecture and urbanism at RMIT.

Kay Hughes, director of design at HS2 Ltd and the former head of design at the Olympic Delivery Authority and senior project sponsor at the Foreign Office. She was also part of the winning team in the National Infrastructure Commission’s ideas competition for the Oxford-Cambridge arc.

Roland Karthaus, founding director of Matter Architecture which works across sectors and scales and is known for its research including a project with the Ministry of Justice to improve prison design for wellbeing. An architect, urban designer and public sector client, he is also a tutor at the University of East London, a member of the High Streets Task Force and a Design Council expert.

Claire McKeown, project director of V&A East, leading on construction for the museum’s two new venues in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park at Stratford – the Waterfront Museum, which is being designed by O’Donnell & Tuomey, and the Collection & Research Centre at Here East, by Diller Scofidio & Renfro.

Simon Tonks, senior associate at RSHP. He was project architect on the Transport for London headquarters at Stratford’s International Quarter London and also worked on the Leadenhalll Building in the City of London. He is currently leading detailed design and delivery of the 220m Qianhai Financial Holdings Tower in China. He has a particular interest in affordable and sustainable residential design.

Leanne Tritton, founder and managing director of ING Media, the built environment communications specialists, and incoming chair of the London Society. She is a regular speaker and writer and has worked in Australia, the USA and the UK.

Keith Waller, development director of Costain and programme director of the government’s Construction Innovation Hub, working with government, academia and industry to transform construction.