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Environment secretary John Gummer today announced that the urban design competition to replace the Marsham Street t...
Environment secretary John Gummer today announced that the urban design competition to replace the Marsham Street towers, which currently house the department of the environment's headquarters, has been won by Tagliaventi & Associates of Bologna, Italy.

Awarding the first prize of £25,000 at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in London, as well as joint second prizes of £11,250 to Pier Carlo Bontempi and Andrea Pacciani of Parma, Italy, and John Robins and Janusz Maciag of London, Mr Gummer said:

'Both the deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine and I were delighted with the response to the competition and the standard of work submitted. It has brought forward some very interesting and exciting proposals prompting valuable discussion from both jury members and the public alike.

'In discussing the winning schemes the jury concentrated on the three agreed themes of breaking the existing monolith, recreating a street pattern and enhancing the surrounding area. We were concerned that there should be flexibility within each proposed master plan and that they were on a 'human scale', in contrast to the towers that currently dominate the Westminster sky line.'

On the winning scheme he said:

'The jury felt that the design proposed by Tagliaventi & Associates related well to the urban context, made effective use of the available space, and provided for a well thought out mixture of uses. It also provides for flexibility in the distribution of uses in the future.

'In coming to this decision the jury also kept in mind that the architecture proposed was only indicative, since the designs of individual buildings would be the subject of future consideration. What mattered was the urban design framework which guided future development. Other comments complimented the proposal for a central square.

'Indeed, it was refreshing to see that so many schemes addressed civic design issues with the making of 'places' a dominant theme over the design of individual buildings. This proves that, once again, urban design can be conceived irrespective of architectural proposals, provided that the right parameters are in place, such as those that characterised the Marsham Street competition brief and urban context study.

'I want to see the same attention to urban design principles which underpinned the Marsham Street competition being adopted more widely. Marsham Street may be a flagship site at the heart of Westminster, but similar urban design considerations apply equally to sites in cities, towns and villages across the country. That is why the Marsham Street competition should be seen in the context of the government's wider campaign to promote proper consideration of urban design issues in relation to everyday development.'

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