Lancaster University Urban Design Competition Expressions of Interest


The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is pleased to announce that the Lancaster University Urban Design Competition has been won by a team led by Rick Mather Architects, working in conjunction with Grant Associates, Eckersley O’Callaghan, Mott MacDonald and DHA Lighting.

Lancaster University was seeking to select a multi-disciplinary team with innovative design skills to rejuvenate The ‘Spine’ - the principal pedestrian walkway on its Bailrigg campus - and transform it into an inspirational space where people learn, work, live and socialise.

The Rick Mather Architects team was selected from a five strong shortlist that also included (in alphabetical order of the Lead Applicant) Gustafson Porter Ltd; Land Use Consultants; Shepheard Epstein Hunter and White Arkitekter.

The Judging Panel which evaluated the Stage 2 design submissions comprised, from the University: the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the Director of Facilities and the President of the Lancaster University Students Union. They were joined by RIBA Chartered Architects Geoff Alsop and Jim Chapman (acting as the RIBA Architect Adviser to the competition), together with the Chief Officer for Regeneration and Planning at Lancaster City Council.

The Judging Panel recognised the complexity of the challenge that the five teams had been set. Whilst acknowledging the pioneering model that Lancaster had provided for University campus design in the 1960’s and 1970’s, Rick Mather Architects’ proposals focused on the demands and future needs of a modern University in an approach which considered the campus as a whole. The team’s vision involved re-defining The ‘Spine’ as a necklace thoroughfare with enlivened building frontages, and a series of characterful connecting spaces with interesting diagonal relationships to better knit the campus together.

Mark Swindlehurst (Lancaster University, Director of Facilities) commented:
"Rick Mather Architects’ submission demonstrated a convincing intellectual process, with a good logic to the proposed phasing to test design strategies and help minimise disruption to campus life. We very much look forward to working with the RMA team to develop the ideas presented".


Category Competition Result / Project Competition
Type International, Project (EoI), Open, Two-Stage
Genre Landscape, Urban
Country UK
Registration Deadline 12 May 2014 GoogleCal iCal
Submission Deadline 12 May 2014
Eligibility architect-led, or landscape architect-led teams

An urban design competition is being launched by Lancaster University in its 50th anniversary year.

The University is calling on architect-led, or landscape architect-led teams to rejuvenate its Lancaster campus’s principal walkway, known as The Spine.

The ‘Spine’, is a partially covered pedestrian walkway spanning one end of the campus to the other, a distance of one kilometre. It was originally designed to allow pedestrians to walk the whole length of the campus whilst providing a degree of protection from the weather. Portions of the walkway were left open to the sky to let in the natural light, avoiding the need to provide under canopy lighting in part. The original 1960’s architects and master planners of the University (Shepheard Epstein) designed The Spine to follow the natural gradient of the land.

Director of Facilities, Mark Swindlehurst said: “We are looking for an innovative team capable of rejuvenating The Spine and re-presenting it as a space that knits together an array of different buildings, external landscapes and addresses various building frontages and entrances.

“We want to create an inspirational space where people learn, work and live as well as go about their daily business. The University fosters a sense of community cohesion and The Spine should facilitate this.”

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is managing the competition process and a shortlist of five teams will be invited to develop their concepts in response to the University’s outline brief. An equal honorarium will be paid to each of the five shortlisted teams invited to participate in the design phase of the competition. 

The competition will be held in two stages:

Stage 1: Expressions of Interest
Stage 2: Submission of dialogues and concepts to illustrate possible design approach and final interview with jury panel

Expressions of Interest are invited in accordance with the requirements set out in the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire and Preliminary Competition Brief available from the University’s e-tendering system at

Lancaster University

Official Website