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Architecture students triumphant in competition to revamp Leicester

A radical plan to transform visitors’ first impressions of Leicester was the winning design in a prestigious competition for Architecture students at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).

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DMU's winning third-year Architecture students: Dilshod, Grace, Joe and Ben

Groups of talented undergraduates raced against the clock to produce striking schemes to revamp the area around the railway station in the city in just 48 hours.

They were taking part in an annual contest run by the Leicestershire and Rutland Society of Architects (LRSA).

The team that took the society’s President’s Prize triumphed with a proposal for a ‘green platform’ to restore the ring-road-ruptured link between Leicester’s elegant Victorian railway station and Granby Street, which leads to the heart of the city.

Third-year students Grace Butcher, Joe White, Ben Wiles and Dilshod Perkins imagined a bridge-cum-platform dotted with seating areas and statues of foxes, the iconic emblem of Leicestershire.

Each fox statue would bear a QR code which would link to a website with information about the city.

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“We thought it was a really good design,” said Nils Feldmann, president of the LRSA.

“They wanted the street life of Leicester to begin right in the station. We really liked their entry. They made it look effortless.”

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Student Ben said: “As well as being a challenging couple of days, they were also very enjoyable.

“We were shocked to win, but really happy. It’s a great confidence-boost knowing that the judges understood where we were going with our vision.

“It’s definitely an experience I’ll be focussing on in future job interviews and we’re so lucky that we are given opportunities like this through DMU and external bodies like the LRSA.”

The theme for this year’s competition was Destination Leicester, and challenged students to reinvent one of the main gateways to the city.

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“We felt the area around the station could be better,” said Nils, who runs an architectural practice in Leicester.

“We thought about people coming to see the football, the rugby or the Richard III exhibition and thought ‘what would be their first impressions of Leicester? What should they be?’

“The submissions were excellent. Students produced some really good ideas in a very short time.

“One group produced some striking hand-drawn sketches. Another team had made a fantastic model. They all produced very exciting work.”

Students were only given the brief a couple of days before they had to submit their ideas. The winning team shared a prize of £100, with £50 going to each of the two second-placed groups.

Another winning-team member Joe said: “Winning the competition feels like a brilliant endorsement of our hard work.

“It was a great experience and it made me wish that I had entered in previous years too. I would definitely recommend it to all other Architecture students.”

Rob Sheen, of the Architecture and Design Resource Centre at DMU, said: “The students really are under pressure in this competition. They have 48 hours to come up with an idea and plan it. It’s a real-life situation, and they have to think outside the box.”

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Posted on Tuesday 29th November 2016

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