The winning gantry, from Useful Studio is described as “a simple, pared-back design approach”.
Useful Studio will now work with National Highways to develop its design concept, with a view to it becoming the standard design for new roads and major upgrades in 2025.
The competition was organised by National Highways in conjunction with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), with 32 entries from across the UK and Europe.
Useful Studio’s entry was chosen as winner because of its “elegance and simplicity, and how cohesive the design concept was across a range of different structures”.
National Highways said that its existing 3,500 gantries “tend to be heavily engineered, with an emphasis on function over form”. Instead it wants “a more streamlined, elegant and consistent visual appearance for roadside gantries to enhance the public’s driving experience”.
The winning entry uses less steel than existing designs, meaning less embodied carbon, and the use of pre-weathered rather than painted steel. It can be adapted for different types of structures including those spanning all carriageways and the roadside signs.
National Highways operations director Duncan Smith said: “This is a great opportunity for us to develop a more streamlined, elegant, and consistent visual appearance for roadside gantries to enhance drivers’ experience when driving on England’s motorways and Major A-roads.
“Existing designs tend to emphasise function over form, our challenge is to create innovative structures that can accommodate the required signage and equipment that are more sympathetic to the environment.
“In selecting Useful Studio as the winner, the judging panel admired the simplicity and elegance of the pared-back design approach, and the opportunities it presented in terms of a resource efficient, standardised, coherent suite of gantry structures that would be potentially sympathetic to a broad range of settings and contexts.”
Although security issues did not form part of the original specification, the new design is expected to be more resilient to trespassers as it is concealed within the pillars.
Other entries included wood composite and LED panel-based designs.
A design by John McAslan & Partners (pictured below) won second place in the competition, while three other concepts were highly commended by the judging panel.