Architecture student wins Urban Design award

19th May 2010


A postgraduate student has won the Urban Design Group's Francis Tibbalds Student Award.

Nick Thorne

Nick Thorne's project, 'The Shambles' is a proposed regeneration of the Osney Mead industrial estate in Oxford. Read on to see Nick's comments on winning the award, a description of the work by a staff member of School of Planning and Nick's student profile.

Nick talks about the award

In February 2010, I was presented with the first Francis Tibbalds Student Award by the Urban Design Group for 'The Shambles - A new heart for the Osney Islands', Oxford project. The scheme was an individual project based upon a masterplan (group project) as part of the Urban Design Specialisation module undertaken during second year of my Architecture Diploma.

The project regenerates Osney Mead Industrial Estate, a primarily single use brownfield site located beside the River Thames and canal approximately ten minutes walk west of Oxford City Centre. The scheme includes a new mixed use neighbourhood within a perimeter block form connected to the existing Osney Mead community by a new pedestrian bridge. The new bridge will create an important nodal point on the Osney Mead side of the river and analysis of the existing and proposed urban grain demonstrated an opportunity to create a centre with a unique identity for the new neighbourhood.

A design motif was introduced into the scheme inspired by graffiti on warehousing along the canal. The variety of shapes and colours of the graffiti influenced the plot form, selection of materials, street furniture and an abstract pedestrian dominant floorscape. The Shambles combines references to the past with the use of an abstract design motif to create a "one off" exciting and distinctive mixed use neighbourhood that promotes social and physical wellbeing. The heart will provide a vibrant location for the new and existing communities to integrate and develop their own identity to attract people from Oxford and beyond.

The award ceremony was an exciting evening event held in a basement gallery located in London. The nominated students were each required to present their submissions to the audience which was then followed by a presentation ceremony. I was over the moon to win the award and that my work had been recognised over other competitive projects at Brookes and from other universities around the country.

Tutor's comments

"It is fantastic news for all of us involved in Urban Design at the Joint Centre for Urban Design at Oxford Brookes University that Nick Thorne has won the first UDG urban design student award. Nick's urban design studio work entitled the "Shambles" is a great combination of the basic principles of good urban design and an artistic interpretation that delivers a project that can truly carry the label of being "distinctive".

The focus for Nick's creativity on this project was the use of an abstract design motif that we make the urban design students use to inject art into their urban design solutions. Nick's work using "graffiti" as his motif is the best example we have seen recently that translates this abstract design motif into practical urban design solutions.

All the students compiled a design matrix to assist the integration of their creative motifs into the key urban morphological features of block, street, plot and public realm detailing. In Nick's case this was achieved by overlaying local graffiti onto the concept street and block layout to develop a unique identity for the buildings and floorscape.

The results - The Shambles - employs references to the site and its past with the use of an abstract design motif to create a "one off" exciting and distinctive mixed use neighbourhood combining both the art and science of urban design to produce an exciting new scheme". Dr Jon Cooper - Urban Design Studio II Leader and part time Course Coordinator

See Nick Thorne's student profile for more details and images of his award winning studio work.