Creative ideas abound for a Wimbledon of the future

Entries are in for the Future Wimbledon ideas competition and a panel of A-listers from the world of design and architecture have shortlisted 29 from nearly 100 creative visions for the town centre.

Ideas include raised planting on the Broadway, in which strawberries could be grown for the tennis championships, creating a continental plaza and planting an urban forest. The most common emerging themes were around calming traffic, greening Wimbledon and giving the town centre a much more unique identity.

The competition, organised by Merton Council, Love Wimbledon Business Improvement District and Design Council, attracted ideas from professionals and our own local creative communities whose imaginations were fired by the possibility of imagining the Wimbledon town centre of 2030.

A judging panel, which included leading lights from the design and architecture industries, Paul Finch, Alison Brooks, Peter Murray and Morag Myerscough have shortlisted the best entries and will announce the overall winner on Wednesday 8 October at the Design Talk event at the Wimbledon Bookfest.

The best ideas will be exhibited at the New London Architecture Centre in central London from 9 October as well a local exhibition at Wimbledon Piazza where the community can have their say on the ideas. Entries will also be showcased on the Future Wimbledon website from mid October.

Merton Council cabinet member for environmental sustainability and regeneration Councillor Andrew Judge said: “This competition is about the future of Wimbledon and we know that in a fast moving world we cannot stand still.

“There will be change and we must ensure that it is positive change. Our approach must be to aim for real quality in the public realm: preserving our heritage, retaining what we value, whilst being open to innovation, with new businesses and a rich cultural life playing their full part. In looking at the future, we have begun by inviting these contributions of ideas. This competition has offered a unique opportunity for everyone locally to contribute their own creative visions about the future shape of this place we love. I look forward to the public exhibition of the shortlisted entries.”

The breadth and quality of the ideas delighted Paul Windsor, chair of Love Wimbledon. “We are really excited about the wide variety of entries from around the world,” he said. “The future of Wimbledon is looking extremely positive, judging by the standard of ideas in this competition.”

Alison Brooks of alison brooks architecture ltd said: “It was really refreshing to see the scale, range and breadth of ideas being brought to the question of re-imagining Wimbledon town centre, reflecting a problem with high streets across the country.

“I expected worthy, pragmatic, approaches but there is a lot of wit and creativity. This artfulness, not only around urban design but of what happens in this town centre, is what could really bring something new to a place of tennis and parks.

“The most successful and most convincing ideas were those that were playful and slightly unconventional in their approach, not requiring huge teams of professionals and huge acquisitions of land. This was about sensitive reimagining and graspable manageable projects that have the potential to completely transform the way you experience urban places.”

Peter Murray of New London Architecture said: “I found it interesting that most of the entries put forward a number of solutions rather than one single megastructure or complete idea. This reflects the nature of contemporary planning; incrementalism is the order of the day.

“One of the key themes was how you allocate the roads to either shared space or slow space while addressing the fact that the main road is a major London link. It’s difficult, but it’s a challenge almost every single entry was concerned with.”

Morag Myerscough of Studio Myerscough said: “When you walk around Wimbledon there is a good atmosphere. This competition isn’t about knocking it all down and rebuilding, but about building on the existing and giving it back to the people. The entries which featured massive high rises immediately made you feel it wasn’t right for this area.

“The strongest entries were those sensitive to making an individual town centre rather than something generic.  It is important to take on a whole series of curated events throughout the year to keep the energy going to make things happen.

“It is less about structures and more about the involvement of people, schools, bringing in people to think differently about how they are using the space, not just to shop.”

-ENDS-

 Notes to editors

The competition, launched in July, builds on the success of last year’s Future Wimbledon Conference, with the council’s regeneration team  and Love Wimbledon calling on community groups, residents young and old, built environment specialists and borough businesses to start the debate about how Wimbledon might evolve and respond to London’s growth.

The brief was to describe how Wimbledon town centre could look in future; what amenities it should have, and what type of buildings and public spaces could be developed.

Entries have been submitted in the form of animations, sketches, technical plans and architectural designs.

Judges have been looking for innovative ways to tackle traffic management, environmental sustainability and ways of creating a quality urban environment in which people live and work. Other issues include the future of high-street retailing, growing the local economy, promoting inward investment and looking at how Wimbledon station could evolve as a world-class transport hub as part of the Crossrail 2 proposals.

Entries were submitted in two categories; Rising Stars and Creative Communities.  Rising Stars is for individual urban designers, town planners, architects, landscape designers and soon-to-be-qualified professionals in these fields. First prize is £3,000 and the opportunity to be a design champion working for at least 18 months with Love Wimbledon and the council’s regeneration team, futureMerton. A further £2,000 has been set aside in prize money for other entries judged to be exceptional. The Creative Communities prizes will go towards local community projects.

Design Council champions great design:  For us that means design which improves lives and makes things better, improving our built environment and tackling complex social issues. As an enterprising charity, our work places design at the heart of creating value by stimulating innovation in business and public services. We inspire new design thinking, encourage public debate and inform government policy to improve everyday life and help meet tomorrow’s challenges today. For further information visit designcouncil.org.uk.