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Wolfson prize winner announced

Words: Sam Waddicor

David Rudlin of urban design agency Urbed has scooped the £250,000 Wolfson Economic Prize 2014 for his vision of new garden cities built as expansions of existing large towns.

Rudlin’s winning entry, co-authored with colleague Nicholas Falk, was based around the fictional city of Uxcester and described a plan to create a garden city of nearly 400,000 by doubling the size of an existing town. The judges particularly praised “the personal and human-scale nature of the vision and the fact that the authors had decided to argue not just for one place, but for a transferable model applicable to around 40 locations in the UK.” 

David Rudlin said: “I am delighted that our distinctive approach to building garden cities has been recognised by the judges, as will the good people of the fictional city of Uxcester that we created for the submission. We believe that the expansion of existing places like Uxcester to create garden cities has the potential to make a significant contribution to meeting our housing needs as well as creating places that are attractive and popular, and that fulfil their economic potential.”

Rudlin went on to say that a Garden Cities Act should be introduced by the next government to enable towns and cities to bid for garden city status. 

The question the judges posed for this year’s prize was ‘How would you deliver a new garden city which is visionary, economically viable and popular?’ The contest attracted nearly 300 entries of which five were shortlisted in June for the overall prize.

Homeless charity Shelter was runner-up with a scheme to build a 15,000 home garden city on the Hoo Peninsula in Kent.

Founder of the prize, Lord Wolfson of Aspley Guise, said: "We urgently need to build more houses and great places in Britain. I am delighted that this year’s Wolfson Economics Prize has generated so many powerful and creative proposals for new garden cities. David’s entry is a tour de force of economic and financial analysis, creative thinking and bold, daring ideas. I congratulate him and his team on a fantastic contribution to the debate on how we can deliver great new places for future generations to live, work and play in.”

Housing minister Brandon Lewis responded to the result by saying: “We are committed to protecting the green belt from development as an important protection against urban sprawl - today’s proposal from Lord Wolfson’s competition is not government policy and will not be taken up.

“Instead, we stand ready to work with communities across the country who have ideas for a new generation of garden cities and we have offered support to areas with locally-supported plans that come forward. But we do not intend to follow the failed example of top-down eco-towns from the last administration. Picking housing numbers out of thin air and imposing them on local communities builds nothing but resentment. This government has abolished regional quangos’ role in planning - instead, we have empowered elected local councils to determine where new homes should and shouldn’t go.”

A full list of all the shortlisted entries as well as the judges’ comments can be seen on the Wolfson Prize website.

Photo credit: URBED