Ian Simpson wins National Wildflower Centre contest

Manchester-based Ian Simpson Architects has won its first job in the Liverpool area, years after walking away from the city having failed to gain planning permission for the massive Maro Developments residential tower at Brunswick Quay.

ISA, along with Adams Kara Taylor Engineers and Hoare Lea Engineers, has been selected by RIBA and a panel of independent judges to design an educational, conference and seed production complex at the National Wildflower Centre in Knowsley.

The building is intended to be one of the first in the country to be rated BREEAM 'outstanding' for its environmental credentials.

The winning design beat off five other shortlisted practices, including DM3 Architecture; Kirkland Fraser Moor; Nicolas Tye Architects; Studio Verna and Urban Salon Architects.

Sue Carmichael, RIBA Adviser, commented: "The six shortlisted practices in the rapid four week stage two stage responded enthusiastically to both the generic and individual searching questions from by the panel designed to promote further evolution of the initial sketch concepts and challenge their deliverability."

The judging panel's decision was unanimous. The obligatory architectural narrative that accompanied the announcement said the winning design's 'powerful fibonacci-generated spiral solution has a dramatic wild flower head-inspired conference centre focus; a distinctive and memorable architectural statement cleverly combining the brief's organic and mathematical themes.'

The wildflower centre opened in 2001 with funding from the Millennium Commission. The centre is set in the 35-acre Victorian Court Hey Park, five miles south of Liverpool city centre. The centre is run by the environmental charity Landlife.

The extension will hug the park's North West boundary in a curved sweep. Grant Luscombe, chief executive of Landlife, said: "I am delighted that the jury panel has selected the public's favourite design. Inspired by the Fibonacci spirals that nature uses to place seeds on a seed head, petals on a flower and leaves on a stem, the building itself will help people understand connections between maths and nature. Entering the 'flower head' structure will be an inspirational experience by demonstrating how artists, architects and engineers over the centuries have used the simple angles and numerical sequences found in wildflowers.

The project is supported by the North West Development Agency.

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