Stage 2 Shortlist

In the first stage of the competition we envisioned Soar Island being reinhabited with a group of diverse enterprises which together would add up to something transformational. Since then we have been meeting the real-life counterparts of our earlier fictional inventions, they include:

  • Rahat Mohammed, who runs Ammy's Pickles.
  • Michelle Stratford is the proprietor of Planet Leicester Bakers
  • Serene Foster runs Leicester-based Hydes Herbal Clinic
  • Elaine Crewe runs Train4Life

We are proposing:

  • A herb garden where visitors can learn about, help cultivate and buy herbs
  • A pickle factory and shop celebrating the creative diversity of pickle recipes worldwide.
  • A bakery and brewery served by barge and bicycle (and the occasional truck), with cookery school, café, bar and shop.
  • An outdoor gym circuit that threads through the new-planted island forest.

Each of these ventures, sitting lightly on the island's natural ecology, has an introductory gatehouse providing residential accommodation for the four curator-activators. They will create a new island economy

Soar Island will find a new identity for itself: a mix and balance of nature, riverbank, sensitive human activity and determined planning.

Landscape Consultants: Jonathan Cook Landscape Architects

Soar Island is a unique and beautiful place within Leicester. We believe it shares key characteristics with Rome's Tiber Island and has the potential to become the centrepiece of the wider waterside regeneration.

We propose an ensemble of mixed use buildings that follow the banks of the River Soar and the Grand Union Canal. The dual aspect buildings and promenades provide access to the water's edge, whilst also framing a public square at the heart of the island. Cafes, restaurants, workshops, a crèche & office space spill out onto the public square, with new homes above: a place to live, work and entertain.

A gallery building is positioned between the bridges and looks south over the weir. It forms a key piece within the building ensemble, frames the island square, and looks out over the river and weir. Culture is at the heart of the regeneration with spaces for art and events throughout the year.

The Soar Island transformation is based on a residential-led mixed-use program to create an open framework for the conversion, a “Waterside within the Waterside” as an urban gateway.

The city-vision answers to five different attitudes:

  • Reclaiming the public space (1): a North-South sequence of three landscape units acts as the backbone to guide the plan.
  • Reintegrating the natural rhythms (2): the proposal is anchored in the existing natural values and the potential of an active waterfront, as the promise to build a shared community.
  • Triggering social & functional diversity (3): the notion of diversity, supported by a strong identity, is understood as the main asset to reach a desirable robustness.
  • Reconnecting with the city (4): the Island is relinked with the city through soft-mobility and shared traffic principles.
  • Addressing a future oriented plan (5): the feasibility is guaranteed thanks to an action plan throughout the time, able to integrate a wide range of ownerships and kinds of management.

Soar Island is situated between Rally Park and Waterside and acts as green linkage between the suburbs and the city center. The transformation of Soar Island will create an iconic landscape park which will not only act as an iconic landmark but also create an attractive destination for people to go, meet and enjoy being by the river, whilst providing opportunities to enhance its rich biodiversity.

The design of the new landmark be about succession, sedimentation, fluctuation and transformation; a flow of ideas which simultaneously settles and unsettles. The Park will reconcile nature and culture in a condensed and ever changing format. The master plan for this island is initiator and catalyst; it will create conditions for others, both man and nature, to respond to and above all to reflect upon and to communicate with.

The current flatness of the site will be manipulated and transformed in a series of sensuous shaped landforms. These landforms are positioned throughout the site and provide magnificent views towards the build and un-build environment. The landforms will act as stages for humans and nature to interact. New structure will link the landforms and provide safe access to all areas of the park.

Competition Contact

The competition is being administered by RIBA Competitions, to whom any enquiries relating to the general conditions of this competition should be addressed.

    0113 203 1490

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