Design competition launched for Bradford City of Culture 2025

On behalf of Bradford 2025, RIBA has released a design brief for a travelling performance space to host live events and installations across the district during 2025.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has launched a design competition for a travelling performance space for Bradford, as part of the city’s appointment as UK City of Culture for 2025.

Named Beacon, the performance space aims to celebrate Bradford’s cultural heritage, engage with its diverse communities and should have sustainability at its heart, says the brief.

As a “flagship” part of Bradford 2025, it will also “be a statement structure that serves as a space for exploring conversations and ideas that will inform how we think as a district about culture venues in the future”, according to RIBA.

The competition is open to mixed teams of architects, designers, landscape architects and artists, but the team must be architect-led. “Innovative design collaborations”, are encouraged, whether mixing established and emerging talent, contributors in different geographical locations or other factors “to enhance design quality and bring other aspects of added value”, says RIBA.

RIBA Architect Advisor for the competition and co-founder and director of Our Building Design, Tumpa Husna Yasmin Fellows, comments that the team is “seeking responses through the lens of de-colonial architectural practice, design methods and proposals”.

Looking to widen access to the arts and create more equitable public spaces, the design, build and use of the performance space should “facilitat[e] the voices of under-represented and local diasporic communities, in the design, build and use of Beacon”, says Fellows.


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It should be welcoming and should actively aim to reduce threshold anxiety among community audiences”, as well as being “Insta-worthy”, the brief adds.

In terms of sustainability, the design’s environmental ethos should be “front and centre”, with the choice of materials and fabrication techniques apparent, to prompt conversations with communities about the global impact of climate change.

Consideration should be given to the use of non-extractive, re-used, re-purposed and bio-degradable materials. Passive heating and cooling techniques should also be considered.

While the three locations are not yet finalised, but Beacon is intended to be stationed in open spaces and parks, “bringing culture to the hearts of people’s neighbourhoods and testing new ways to engage and interact with communities”, according to the brief. The build should look to minimise lasting impact on the ground and turnaround between sites.

The project should last at least nine months and require minimum maintenance, and the strategy should consider  how the structure can be repaired and later reused.

There will also be a “collaborative effort between the winning design team and Bradford Culture Company to create a long-term use of the Beacon”, according to the brief.

The brief guides that the budget will be managed by the winning team, but it is estimated that construction cost is in the order of £500,000 + VAT (excluding fees).

The deadline for expressions of interest is 12 midday (BST) on Tuesday 27 June 2023. A shortlist will be notified and issued with the Phase Two brief w/c 10 July and the final announcement and exhibition due end September/early October 2023. Find out more information and apply here.

Banner image: The Brick Box © Karol Wyszynski


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