Plan to revive Canal Basin wins RIBA Forgotten Spaces top prize of £5000

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced the winner of the Forgotten Spaces competition in Preston as ‘canaLIDO’, a proposal to bring back to life the Lancaster Canal Basin by creating a sense of community through the construction of a lido.

The competition saw architects, students and designers put forward innovative concepts which would re-connect redundant and neglected spaces across Preston with the community. The competition is for ideas only and it is not intended to commission the plans, however it is hoped that the entries will provoke discussion amongst landowners, local authorities and investors about regeneration via a grass roots approach.

Second place went to ‘Shelf Life’, a project to transform Avenham car-park into a multi-storey farming estate and third place to ‘Woven In Cotton’, a plan to bring life to the forgotten weinds and yards through the creation of a craft market and fashion show.

The judging panel included RIBA President, Stephen Hodder, Bob Allies of Allies and Morrison, Architects Journal news editor Richard Waite, architect Alex McCrickard of the Eric Wright Group, Places Matter! design review manager Charlotte Myhrum, and Creative Tourist editor and founder Susie Stubbs.

Stephen Hodder, RIBA President and Jury Chair for Forgotten Spaces Preston said,

“The judges had a difficult task in choosing a winner but unanimously agreed on ‘canaLIDO’. The idea captures the spirit of the mid Twentieth Century lidos, and whilst a relatively straightforward idea, the entrants have clearly put a lot of thought into how it could be executed. It would certainly re-engage the local community with the canal basin.”

Councillor John Swindells, Deputy Leader of Preston City Council said:

“I am delighted that there has been huge interest in Preston with entries coming in from right across the country.

“The standard of entries has been extremely high, and the judges certainly had a tough time choosing the winners so congratulations to everyone who took part. I have been impressed by the creativity, vision and quality of some of the ideas put forward and the exhibition is a great opportunity to showcase these excellent works.”

County Councillor Jennifer Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council, said:

“This is a great idea and an example of a design that would breathe new life into a disused area of Preston. The great thing about this concept is that it brings the canal close to the community through the facilities that surround the basin. “This, along with all the other shortlisted designs are superb examples of how to transform the forgotten areas of Preston.”

All of the shortlist will be displayed in an exhibition on show at 50-52 Lancaster Road in central Preston.

Forgotten Spaces Preston was sponsored by the Eric Wright Group, Booths and Lancashire County Council, and supported by Preston City Council, the University of Central Lancashire and the North Lancashire Society of Architects.

Details of the winners and commendations are as follows:



Aynsley Gray & Jamie McAllister

canaLIDO is focused on bringing a dying canal back to life and reinventing the dilapidated canal basin using the historic concept of a lido. It will also bring activities in the surrounding area together in one place.


Shelf Life

OSC Design – Oliver Beasley & Chris Blake

A multi-storey farming estate comprised of farmers markets, a pick-your-own supermarket and education facilities, specialising in innovative farming practices.


Woven in Cotton

Luke Petty & Gillian Harrison

Fabric produced and dyed on site is woven through forgotten weinds, yards and alleys to create shelter for a craft market and fashion show that celebrate Preston’s textile heritage and creative future.



Calderpeel Architects – Kathryn Timmins, Shona Scales, James Mellor, Michael Park, Patrick Taft, Ewen Miller & Andrew Lightfoot

The Avenham Viaduct cantilevered extension hosts craYarc, a White Clawed Crayfish ‘Arc’ site which rears the native crayfish in preparation for river restocking. craYarc seeks to rebalance the Ribble Ecology and reconnect Prestonians with the River.


Daniels Thiede Architects – Ralf Thiede, Caroline Barker, Jack Doyle & Mike Daniels

The sculptural quality of the car park is celebrated by a looping board walk reminiscent of a seaside pier which wraps itself around the existing structure.

The Water Grocers: a Floating Market and Community

Andrew Lees with FFLO (Claire Fernley and James Fox)

The proposal is a new combined model of dwelling, economic activity (independent farmers’ market), and a new transient urban space in the form of a floating market square. This transforms the dead end of the canal into a vibrant destination.

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