Architecture students from the University have won a national competition with their eye-catching designs for new mile markers that will be erected along the entire course of the Virgin London Marathon 

A TEAM of architecture students at the University of Huddersfield will make their mark on the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon and its 40,000-plus participants, plus the millions watching worldwide. 

They have been declared winners of a nationwide competition – backed by the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust – to design eye-catching new mile markers to be erected along the course of the famous race.  These will replace the scaffolding-style structures that have been in use for several years. 

The Huddersfield students took their inspiration from nature when they developed ingenious new mile markers that can rapidly be assembled from 3D-printed hexagons. 

One of the team, Chantal Banker, explained: “When we looked at the brief it gave us an opportunity to inspire the community. We saw the London Marathon as a community of runners – people from different backgrounds supporting different cultures all running together. We took the hexagon from nature and how bees in a beehive make a community.” 

Chantal and her teammates Haider Bokhari, Davina Lyn and Athis Rashid are all studying at the University of Huddersfield on the RIBA-validated Part II Master of Architecture course. 

They formed themselves into one of more than 40 teams of students from around the UK who registered for the competition launched by the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and London Marathon Events Ltd, with a brief to design a new structure for every one of the 26 miles on the course, which passes many world famous London landmarks. The mile markers will display not only the distance but also the time, so that runners can keep a close tab on their performance. 

The new competition follows 2018’s contest to design the Mile 18 Marker, in honour of Stephen Lawrence, the murdered teenager who nurtured ambitions to become an architect himself. 

The judging panel chose the University of Huddersfield entry – described in a series of detailed architectural drawings and explanatory text – to join a final shortlist of 10. And at a London ceremony it has now been named as the winner, with judges declaring their excitement at the design and its hexagons, which will enable rapid assembly, disassembly and easy transport and storage. 

They will now be 3-D printed using recycled plastics, so that sustainability – a priority for the organisers of the London Marathon - is another key element in the success of the design. 

The students and two of their tutors were present for the announcement, which took place at London’s Stephen Lawrence Centre, where the shortlisted designs are now on display.

The Huddersfield team – who are all Yorkshire-based - will also be present at the London Marathon itself, on April 26. It is hoped that working prototypes of the hexagon-based mile markers will be ready by early March. 

The University of Huddersfield’s Chantal Banker was already linked to the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, as the recipient of a bursary under its Building Futures programme, which inspires and enables young people from disadvantaged and under-represented backgrounds to study and qualify as architects. 

She and her student colleagues are delighted by their success. 

“It’s a great accomplishment,” said Chantal, who aims for an architectural career based on sustainability and building for the community.