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 the last 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.

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

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

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


9/ View of the Old Town Hall from Service Route No. 2, a conversation through time

By Lizzie McHugh, Ellis Williams Architects (EWA)

My sketch imagines a discussion between the current elected mayor of Newham and a mayor of the past.

They’re both incredibly passionate about the people and about progress and opportunity. They live and breathe the context. They are the context. Surviving the war, rebuilding, making plans for the car. It was thrilling, making the future city for the other to grow up in. They talk about how in hindsight they should have strangled the car and the indoor shopping centre. The junctions are too wide and operational energy too high. But they know the stories too. They are the stories. Enduring the 80’s, Thatcher, prejudice. It is tough; making the city fairer. They want things to be better, they want things to change. They talk about ingenuity. They remember how a community can make a skate park from a shopping centre when there is no alternative. They talk about struggle too. They remember how a shopping centre can become a bed when there is no alternative. They make notes - maybe they can find those people and ask them for their help, they’ll have some good ideas. They talk about change and continuity, how superficially alien our present is from our past. They both know the man (lives alone), in the jacket with the hat and the carrier bag. They both know the woman with the checked shopping bag, selects fruit and veg carefully and expertly. They both know the woman pushing half her weight around in a double pram always searching for the dropped kerb. They worry things are a bit of a mess, they agree that there’s a bit too much of everything around, that’s why they’ve chosen this sport for their talk, it’s calmer and quieter on top, only air vents competing for their attention. Maybe other people would like it up here too, they think, could they turn things a bit inside out ? Would things grow here ? There’s plenty of space for things that suck up the water when it rains. Could they take that glazed part of the roof of the shopping centre off ? That bit down there, behind the phone box bin, they could put in a path, the skaters would love that they think. They think there’s lots they can do with the service routes and the roofs of the shopping centre. Reminds them of things close by, there’s lots of inspiration to hand, in touching distance. Shall we take a walk? They make a note of the creative problem solving they see. Lots of different colours on the floor, keeping people safe. Lots of art, lots of routes, bridges, crossings, lights, benches, signs, shared surfaces, places for people, places for independents, places for markets, places for heritage. Other people might like to see what we’ve done so far. Lots of urban challenges have been solved but they must keep going, they think, no time to waste, 2070 will be here soon.


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.