RIBA challenge to unlock Rochdale’s lost history

A global search has begun for design ideas which will provide a fitting backdrop for a recently rediscovered medieval bridge in Rochdale and help to "reconnect" areas of the town.

The main focus of the competition is on the public realm and ginnels around the revealed River Roch – which is set to be opened up – as well as the historic bridge in The Butts.

The competition is being run by Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council, the Royal Institute of British Architects and Places Matter!

Entrants are invited to think about the wider influence and potential of their proposals, in particular how the disjointed parts of the town centre may be reconnected.

Rochdale Council plans to reveal the Roch by opening sections of the river through The Butts and restoring the medieval bridge to transform the centre of Rochdale.

It is hoped that the "discovery" of the medieval bridge, unknowingly crossed by thousands of people every day, will "instil a sense of pride, hope and identify for Rochdale".

Design proposals are sought befitting of the historic backdrop to bring life and reconnect the streets of Rochdale.

The total value of the River Reopening Project is estimated to be in the region of £4m, with the public realm project estimated to cost up to £3m.

The competition runs parallel to the development of a Stage 2 Bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a project described as Restoring the Roch: Rediscovering Rochdale's Medieval Bridge.

If successful, the Heritage Grant would be used to restore the historic bridge, natural heritage of the river habitat and deliver an activity programme of learning and engagement workshops.

Rochdale Council aims to submit its Stage 2 bid by the end of November, with work expected to begin in 2014.

Cllr Peter Williams, Rochdale Council's cabinet member for economic development and customer services, said: "Our exciting plans to re-open the River Roch, will reveal the hidden history of the bridge and the river.

"Through the international design competition, we are challenging urbanists to create a high quality public realm around the river reopening, which will enhance the setting of the town's heritage assets and improve connections north and south of the river."

The competition is open to architects, landscape designers/architects, urban designers and heritage professionals worldwide.

Stage 1 entries will be judged anonymously and five teams will shortlisted to proceed to the second stage, with each receiving an honoraria payment of £3,000 +VAT.

For further details about the Rochdale Town Centre Competition and how to register for the competition please visit www.architecture.com/competitions and follow the link to Live Competitions.

Deadline for receipt of designs is 2.00pm on Tuesday 10 September 2013.

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