Menwith Hill makes architectural contest shortlist

Menwith Hill Early Warning base near Harrogate.  September 1, 2006.
Menwith Hill Early Warning base near Harrogate. September 1, 2006.

Some of the most controversial buildings in Harrogate have made the shortlist for the Best Modern Building in Harrogate competition in this year’s Harrogate International Festival Fringe.

Six local buildings have been selected from public nominations and the winner will be decided this weekend by Owen Hatherley, author of Militant Modernism and renowned London-based architectural and cultural critic of The Guardian.

The judging panel opted for the following on the shortlist - The Exchange (Copthall Tower), Station Parade; Harrogate, Bramall Learning Centre, RHS Harlow Carr Gardens; Golf balls, RAF Menwith Hill, Harrogate; Harrogate International Centre, Kings Road, Harrogate; Beech Grove House apartments, Harrogate; Private House, Rossett Drive, Harrogate (commissioned by Nick Wyatt, director of Ailsa3 Ventures Ltd).

Hatherley will reveal his choice in person at 108 Fine Art gallery on Crown Place at 7pm this Saturday night as part of a new exhibition open to the public called Past Dreams of the Future.

The event has been put together with the help of Acceleris, one of the region’s leading PR and Communications agencies, 108 Fine Art gallery, Harrogate Civic Society and designer Nick Thorpe.

Curated by Festival Fringe programme coordinator Graham Chalmers of the Harrogate Advertiser, the show will highlight modernist plans for radical change in Harrogate of the past which largely failed to get past the planning stage.

The front cover of the exhibition programme has been created by Tracie Marcelle, a student at Harrogate School of Art and Design.

Graham Chalmers said: “There’s more to Harrogate than Bettys and the Turkish Baths, nice as they are. Not all of the plans for modernist architecture have got past the planning stage in Harrogate but even the biggest failures have left traces.

“It says something when a writer of Owen Hatherley’s stature agrees to visit us from London.”

The shortlist judges included Andrew Stewart of 108 Fine Art; Peter Davenport, managing director of Acceleris; Susan Amaku, specialist conservation architect for Woodhall Planning and Conservation and vice-chariman of Harrogate Civic Society; and Graham Chalmers.

Others buildings nominated by ‘people’s choice’ for the Best Modern Building included: Harrogate Police Station, Beckwith Head Road, Harrogate. The Pyramid, Hornbeam Park, Harrogate.Royal Baths II Apartment Building, Montpellier Road, Harrogate. Harrogate Grammar School Sixth Form Pavilion, Arthurs Avenue, Harrogate. Byron Court apartments, Harrogate. Esplanade Court apartments, Harrogate. Harrogate Synagogue, St Mary’s Walk, Harrogate. Harrogate House, Parliament Street, Harrogate.

Owen Hatherley has just published his new book, A New Kind Of Bleak (Verso books), which offers a critique of the state of the nation as reflected in our urban landscapes.

It’s his follow-up to the bestselling A Guide To The New Ruins Of Great Britain. www.harrogate-festival.org.uk/events/events/fringe-festival-2