Ordsall Chord in Manchester, designed by BDP, has won a RIBA National Award. The awards celebrate the best buildings in the UK, recognising innovation and a project’s contribution to architecture. The project, which was one of 54 national winners, will now be considered for the RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist.
Ordsall Chord is a series of new bridges and viaducts in one of the most important sites in the history of the railway, adjacent to Liverpool Road Station which was the first passenger railway station in the world. Central to the design is the world’s first asymmetric network arch bridge which crosses the River Irwell and sits alongside an 1830 bridge by pioneering rail engineer George Stephenson which has been painstakingly renovated.
BDP designed all the major architectural and urban realm elements of the project, including the landscaping and lighting to public spaces and heritage features beneath the bridges and viaducts.
Peter Jenkins BDP’s head of transport said: ‘It is hugely satisfying to receive an architectural award for a project which combines bridges, viaducts, heritage restoration, public and urban design, but which does not actually include a ‘traditional’ building. Our role as architect was to bring together all these different contributions into a holistic solution which is appropriate for a fantastically important site in the global history of the railways and the regeneration context of Manchester. Seven years of hard work by designers, consultants and contractors created a project of which we are all immensely proud.’
The judges said, ‘This project comprises a series of viaducts, bridges and public spaces that link rail services across northern England to provide new routes for passengers and unlock bottlenecks in the system. The final project brings local delight with the striking form of the new river bridge and a strong identity through its materiality and consistent detailing.
‘The architect’s challenge was to create a series of cohesive places with an overriding requirement to clear the path for the new rail route. The site has significant historical importance, intersecting George Stephenson’s pioneering Liverpool to Manchester railway. The original structures have been carefully restored and new public areas created adjacent to them to celebrate their character and importance, creating accessible and versatile urban spaces.
‘The application of concept through to detail is consistently high. Each element and space touched by the project has been carefully considered. What could have been mundane has been lifted by the application of thoughtful strategy, consistent design language and a care in detailing that responds to the context of each element.”
Ordsall Chord has already won a number of top design awards including British Construction Industry, RICS, Civic Trust, Structural Steel, ICE, Architects’ Journal and Royal Academy of Engineering. The Ordsall Chord design team, which also includes WSP, Mott MacDonald, AECOM, Knight Architects and Severfield, was also a finalist in this year’s AJ100 Collaboration of the Year Award.