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Ingenious Rethink 2025 longlist promises better built future

Words:
Eleanor Young

Your enthusiastic response to this invitation to design the post-Covid, environmentally aware, world of 2025 produced an exhilarating range of ideas and a 32 entry-strong longlist

As the UK government promises billions of investment in infrastructure and homes the architecture profession has been designing the things that would make Britain – and other countries – better in the wake of the pandemic. Architects and architecture students were asked to imagine and design for the situation in 2025. How would we be rethinking our buildings and cities in the wake of the coronavirus crisis?

The response was remarkable. The judges were hugely impressed by the scale of ideas, ranging from the personal and intimate in healthcare and specially sewn memorials, to public streets and city regions. Everything from extending and repurposing existing structures to entirely new building types and technologies are represented here. ‘The ingenuity and ideas demonstrated across different issues on the longlist – from health through new building types to streets and neighbourhoods – breeds an optimism about how we reset after the coronavirus pandemic,’ said Rethink 2025 chair of judges, Hugh Pearman of the RIBA Journal. Here the longlisted entries have been split into those dealing with the human body, buildings and communities.

The shortlist has now been announced, with commended and winners from 24-27 July – on ribaj.com. You’ll find more ideas on rethinking our world here.


 

Body

People-centred ideas include ways to keep our distance without impairing sociability, learning or travelling, alongside ways to sanitise and protect people as we go about everyday activities.

  • Safer Buses: Each bus compartment at street level has its own access and can accommodate between one and four people, standing or seated, with luggage, prams, wheelchair, children, or bicycle. Both levels are open to the outside air and divided physically, but not visually, by glass and acrylic screen.
    Safer Buses: Each bus compartment at street level has its own access and can accommodate between one and four people, standing or seated, with luggage, prams, wheelchair, children, or bicycle. Both levels are open to the outside air and divided physically, but not visually, by glass and acrylic screen. Credit: Gillian Martin, GTM-a
  • Separation without Barriers to Learning: A positive classroom experience. Individuals interact in a way that they feel comfortable, choosing their own level of physical separation while remaining engaged in social and learning activities.
    Separation without Barriers to Learning: A positive classroom experience. Individuals interact in a way that they feel comfortable, choosing their own level of physical separation while remaining engaged in social and learning activities. Credit: Emma Tincombe
  • Childbirth Made Personal: Designs are people- and tech-driven in this new era. Here buildings achieve the maternity policy goals of 2020 through personalized ‘maternity bubbles’ – spaces organised around women.
    Childbirth Made Personal: Designs are people- and tech-driven in this new era. Here buildings achieve the maternity policy goals of 2020 through personalized ‘maternity bubbles’ – spaces organised around women. Credit: Sarah Joyce, University of Leeds
  • World Sanitation Box: A network of compact sanitation stations using UVC light to disinfect people on the go, creating a healthier world for tomorrow.
    World Sanitation Box: A network of compact sanitation stations using UVC light to disinfect people on the go, creating a healthier world for tomorrow. Credit: George Stoneham, University of Creative Arts
  • Blue Tile: An interlocking tile system placed strategically at building gates and pathways. It contains a built in mechanism to spray disinfectant/vaccine mist upwards when stepped on.
    Blue Tile: An interlocking tile system placed strategically at building gates and pathways. It contains a built in mechanism to spray disinfectant/vaccine mist upwards when stepped on. Credit: Ahmad Yakout
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Building

Homes are working harder while office use looks set to decline. Boosting the flexibility of living space, repurposing redundant workplaces and facilitating new ways to operate have inspired a raft of ideas for building design. How to help the vulnerable, be inclusive, reduce carbon emissions, design for better mental health or involve users and the community are just some of the issues addressed here.

  • Institute of Making Homes: A radical solution to the housing crisis is required. The institute will drive innovative, collaborative and community involved research into the design, manufacture and construction of homes.
    Institute of Making Homes: A radical solution to the housing crisis is required. The institute will drive innovative, collaborative and community involved research into the design, manufacture and construction of homes. Credit: Monty Dobney. Seven Architecture
  • Markthalle: Markthalle breaks down socio-economic and health related barriers created by the pandemic, providing local residents with a space to socialise while supporting local businesses.
    Markthalle: Markthalle breaks down socio-economic and health related barriers created by the pandemic, providing local residents with a space to socialise while supporting local businesses. Credit: Sophie Judson
  • Pop-up Teaching for Outdoor Learning: Temporary low-cost emergency schools with the immediate aim of efficiently recycling redundant festival marquees, but with the longer-term aim of providing outdoor learning opportunities for all pupils.
    Pop-up Teaching for Outdoor Learning: Temporary low-cost emergency schools with the immediate aim of efficiently recycling redundant festival marquees, but with the longer-term aim of providing outdoor learning opportunities for all pupils. Credit: , Simon Bumstead, Wayne Head and Richard Taylor, Curl La Tourelle Head Architecture
  • Hyper-Emotional Society: The pandemic has caused an evolution towards a hyper-emotional society as we re-evaluate life priorities to become less driven by financial motivations and more by personal emotion and interests. Transforming the way we operate using a work-joining project app, micro home labs and forums.
    Hyper-Emotional Society: The pandemic has caused an evolution towards a hyper-emotional society as we re-evaluate life priorities to become less driven by financial motivations and more by personal emotion and interests. Transforming the way we operate using a work-joining project app, micro home labs and forums. Credit: Hon Yen Chong and Chen-Yong Tan
  • Green Catalyst: Public realm, small scale food production and high density homes come together in a high rise design. These towers are built up from prefabricated timber cubes. Courtyard plans create pleasant airy open space.
    Green Catalyst: Public realm, small scale food production and high density homes come together in a high rise design. These towers are built up from prefabricated timber cubes. Courtyard plans create pleasant airy open space. Credit: Omid Kamvari, Kamvari Architects
  • Spiral Bike Store: The spiral bike store provides a fun and efficient solution to secure cycle storage, here shown deployed in a busy urban square.
    Spiral Bike Store: The spiral bike store provides a fun and efficient solution to secure cycle storage, here shown deployed in a busy urban square. Credit: Fiona Petch, Dan Gullock, Luca Gamberini and Daniel Trevijano Stehle, Fatkin Ltd
  • House Farm, Peru: A new experience of life at home through a new space with two functions: producing vegetables for family consumption and offering recreation. A timber framed home extension.
    House Farm, Peru: A new experience of life at home through a new space with two functions: producing vegetables for family consumption and offering recreation. A timber framed home extension. Credit: Kenyi Kevin and Sulca Quichca, Universidad Nacional de Ingenieria
  • Design-a-Shed: A fictional company specialising in responsive garden office design with an integrated hydrogen fuel cell. Using computational modelling to test for optimum solutions in a de-urbanised future.
    Design-a-Shed: A fictional company specialising in responsive garden office design with an integrated hydrogen fuel cell. Using computational modelling to test for optimum solutions in a de-urbanised future. Credit: Ross Kilshaw, Kilshaw and Partners
  • Street Support Hub: A neighbourhood common room for peripatic works, extra lessons, entertaining, with energy generating capacity. All in the area of a car parking space. Infrastructure that scales down energy and social services, while scaling up the spatial boundaries of the private home.
    Street Support Hub: A neighbourhood common room for peripatic works, extra lessons, entertaining, with energy generating capacity. All in the area of a car parking space. Infrastructure that scales down energy and social services, while scaling up the spatial boundaries of the private home. Credit: Rob Annable and Justin Pickard, Axis Design Architects
  • Far off is Close at Hand: Reworking of a shop as a home. Four critical aspects of living in the city through the lens of a new urban house design: a perch on the street, a nest to withdraw, creating space for the ritual of washing at the threshold and the creation of a ‘bar of exchange’ as boundary between home and street.
    Far off is Close at Hand: Reworking of a shop as a home. Four critical aspects of living in the city through the lens of a new urban house design: a perch on the street, a nest to withdraw, creating space for the ritual of washing at the threshold and the creation of a ‘bar of exchange’ as boundary between home and street. Credit: Michael Haslam, Haslam & Co Architects
  • Window Living: Two New Realities for any Living Space: An interactive window retrofitted to existing buildings to transform into a balcony or sitting place allowing closer interactions with neighbours and nature.
    Window Living: Two New Realities for any Living Space: An interactive window retrofitted to existing buildings to transform into a balcony or sitting place allowing closer interactions with neighbours and nature. Credit: Alice Vivoda, Patricia Schleeh, Eva Setz Kengen and Mark Kengen, The University of Edinburgh
  • Podding the City: Homes will be places for more activities, for healing, working, learning, flexible and elastic living spaces where we will spend most of our time. Lightweight ‘pods’ can be attached to extend existing homes. Don’t build more. Let’s extend. Credit: Pati Santos and Hector Prats-Lopez, The Good Thing
    Podding the City: Homes will be places for more activities, for healing, working, learning, flexible and elastic living spaces where we will spend most of our time. Lightweight ‘pods’ can be attached to extend existing homes. Don’t build more. Let’s extend. Credit: Pati Santos and Hector Prats-Lopez, The Good Thing
  • Get Everyone In: •	Design for the reuse of empty offices to house the homeless. Working from home is now the new norm. Office towers are empty… Here’s how government funds can help the vulnerable in society survive and thrive.
    Get Everyone In: • Design for the reuse of empty offices to house the homeless. Working from home is now the new norm. Office towers are empty… Here’s how government funds can help the vulnerable in society survive and thrive. Credit: Benjamin Holland, Olivia Dolan and Katie Williams, University of Liverpool/ UWE
  • Living in Hope: Enables the mass production of bespoke high-quality homes at low cost using a mobile app and AI to ensure the home works for the user while being based on a consistent grid and structure.
    Living in Hope: Enables the mass production of bespoke high-quality homes at low cost using a mobile app and AI to ensure the home works for the user while being based on a consistent grid and structure. Credit: Rachel Moberly, Will Allen, Steve McDougall, Reuben Reid, and Ollie Wickens, University of Bath
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Communities

Lockdown might have driven a physical wedge between people but community spirit came blossomed. Building on that, and our new-found love of the outdoors, has produced proposals to enrich our urban public spaces, make more of nature's beneficial impact on wellbeing, and strengthen localism. 

  • The Thread and Blanket: Simple objects in the street and home to help remember the pandemic and build back better. Ranging from intimate artefacts to public memorial, The Blanket, Thread, Lamp and Streetlight would be catalysts which continue to harness the power of 'symbols' to connect, unite and strengthen communities.
    The Thread and Blanket: Simple objects in the street and home to help remember the pandemic and build back better. Ranging from intimate artefacts to public memorial, The Blanket, Thread, Lamp and Streetlight would be catalysts which continue to harness the power of 'symbols' to connect, unite and strengthen communities. Credit: Duncan McLeod and Rusty Murphy, Studio McLeod
  • Re-invention of the Mid Twentieth Century Estates: Reimagining the edgeland suburban street with ventilation towers with house walls overlayed with porches and green roofs while nature and food production invited back in.
    Re-invention of the Mid Twentieth Century Estates: Reimagining the edgeland suburban street with ventilation towers with house walls overlayed with porches and green roofs while nature and food production invited back in. Credit: Yvonne Dean, Yvonne Dean Architecture
  • Streets are Made for Walking: Rethinking how space along our streets can better serve the communities who neighbour them with . This cross-section which suggests new ways of interacting between traffic and people, the cross section shows is one such speculation in London.
    Streets are Made for Walking: Rethinking how space along our streets can better serve the communities who neighbour them with . This cross-section which suggests new ways of interacting between traffic and people, the cross section shows is one such speculation in London. Credit: Naomi Rubbra and Leopold Taylor, PeopleMatter.
  • Community Retrofit: Empty department stores and half-used office spaces retrofitted to combat loneliness by reinventing the high street toward sustainable, localised communities in the heart of our towns and cities.
    Community Retrofit: Empty department stores and half-used office spaces retrofitted to combat loneliness by reinventing the high street toward sustainable, localised communities in the heart of our towns and cities. Credit: Peter Barbalov, Edwin Tizard and Flora Sallis-Chandler, Farrells
  • Reclaiming the Streets: A blueprint for a community led, grassroots intervention to reclaim the streets we live on.
    Reclaiming the Streets: A blueprint for a community led, grassroots intervention to reclaim the streets we live on. Credit: Holly Barker, Myles Reece and Tringa Kelmendi
  • Eco-Archi Post Covid: The comic explores the impact of air pollution upon Covid-19 transmission and the disproportionate affects upon BAME communities living in the inner-suburbs of our cities.
    Eco-Archi Post Covid: The comic explores the impact of air pollution upon Covid-19 transmission and the disproportionate affects upon BAME communities living in the inner-suburbs of our cities. Credit: Khan Bonshek
  • Post Pandemic Exchange: The City’s Garden Streets: Providing a cleaner, greener, more attractive inner city, promoting sustainable societal choices, rendering that infrequent trip to the office a worthwhile healing experience.
    Post Pandemic Exchange: The City’s Garden Streets: Providing a cleaner, greener, more attractive inner city, promoting sustainable societal choices, rendering that infrequent trip to the office a worthwhile healing experience. Credit: Elle Thompson, University of Nottingham
  • Village City: A development model that creates a hub of essential facilities in walking distance from a cluster of villages. This reaffirms the strengths of localism, providing economic and community cohesion, with considerable environmental benefits. It may be in need as people move out of cities post-pandemic.
    Village City: A development model that creates a hub of essential facilities in walking distance from a cluster of villages. This reaffirms the strengths of localism, providing economic and community cohesion, with considerable environmental benefits. It may be in need as people move out of cities post-pandemic. Credit: Stephen and Jan Macbean and Paul Gill, Stephen Macbean Architects
  • Greater London Agriculture: A city region masterplan to encourage fresh ways of growing and eating in cities, divesting from industrialised food systems, letting global biodiversity flourish, and - almost incidentally - reducing chances of future pandemics.
    Greater London Agriculture: A city region masterplan to encourage fresh ways of growing and eating in cities, divesting from industrialised food systems, letting global biodiversity flourish, and - almost incidentally - reducing chances of future pandemics. Credit: Tim Rodber and Dominic Walker
  • Pedestrian Friendly Streets: COVID-19 has provided us with the perfect opportunity to rethink urban design so that pedestrians and cyclists are put above motorists. This proposes three tiers of streets, pedestrian streets, cycle streets and regular streets.
    Pedestrian Friendly Streets: COVID-19 has provided us with the perfect opportunity to rethink urban design so that pedestrians and cyclists are put above motorists. This proposes three tiers of streets, pedestrian streets, cycle streets and regular streets. Credit: Gabriel Fox, University of Bath
  • Leafrow: Covid-19 or not 2025 will present a different world: environmental preservation will be key with lifestyles changing accordingly. Redundant planes could be made in all sorts of community spaces, re-energising green spaces  but with targeted recycling  that makes this ‘plane’ sailing.
    Leafrow: Covid-19 or not 2025 will present a different world: environmental preservation will be key with lifestyles changing accordingly. Redundant planes could be made in all sorts of community spaces, re-energising green spaces but with targeted recycling that makes this ‘plane’ sailing. Credit: Hilary Clayton-Mitchell, Ian Clarke, Russell Perry and Issie Atkinson, Highly Creative Minds
  • A Catalogue of Regeneration: Elements for the regeneration of homes to address issues of health, density, sustainability and the physical implications of the Covid-19 fallout in a phased, economical way to help the most vulnerable in society.
    A Catalogue of Regeneration: Elements for the regeneration of homes to address issues of health, density, sustainability and the physical implications of the Covid-19 fallout in a phased, economical way to help the most vulnerable in society. Credit: Andrew Jackson
  • Home Front 2025: An urban vision which encourages the full participation of the public in addressing the global fear of pandemic. Comic book style with multiple propositions.
    Home Front 2025: An urban vision which encourages the full participation of the public in addressing the global fear of pandemic. Comic book style with multiple propositions. Credit: Juliette Sung & Ivan TL Chan
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