The skeptics that we are, we get a bit suspicious when talk of big plans starts sounding a bit too promising. Words like word-class, cutting-edge, sensational and head-turning just doesn’t do it for us. But we’d like to make an exception with the dreamers in Middlesborough (in North East of England) whose grandiose plans to revive the Middlehaven docs and the redundant waterfront are actually starting to become reality.
Practically gushing at their own daring, the town leaders unveiled an agreement between the Tees Valley Regeneration and BioRegional Quintain, one of the UK’s biggest developers. The agreement will apparently bring £200m of investment to Middlesbrough plus 1,000 new jobs; 750 homes designed by top architects, shops, stylish bars, cafés and restaurants and a luxury hotel.
This will also – or so we hope – mean that the master plan of the daring architect Will Alsop will start to materialize in the form of some of the crazy “Meet-the Robinsons-esque” new buildings we’ve seen in the plans.
Alsop is the man who has designed, for example, the Palestra Building, the Peckham Library and the Ben Pimlott Building at goldsmith College — all in London — Hotel du Department des Bouches du Rhone in Marseille, and the Sharp Centre for Design in Toronto. He’s known for fun, playful building with strong colors, unusual shapes and angles.
And we are not the only ones noticing the Middlehaven plans. In March, a team led by Tees Valley Regeneration, developer BioRegional Quintain and its architects Studio Egret West emerged as winners in the “big urban projects” category at the MIPIM (Architectural Review) Future Projects Awards, against other short-listed projects Plot-Scape in Bursa, Turkey and the massive redevelopment of the King’s Cross Station area in London.
By Tuija Seipell