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Monday28 July 2014

Shell Centre site deserves better

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I hold no brief for the Shell Centre. That lugubrious 28-storey tower has dominated the South Bank for too long. But, oh, the sheer banality of the proposals illustrated! (News December 14).

Perhaps the scheme’s underlying rationale is that seven additional buildings, popping up around the Shell tower like meerkats would lighten the impact of that part of the Shell complex the owners wish to keep.

As an exercise in urban design, located just across the river from the Westminster World Heritage Site, the proposals resemble little more than a histogram of the potential for profit to be derived from disparate new development in an area beginning to lose its focus as a location for culture, leisure and, sadly, innovative architecture.

It was not always thus. Anyone with an interest in what might have been — and could still be — should look up Arup Associates’ scheme for the Shell Centre, approved in 2004 but never built.

Philip Wilson
Barnet, Hertfordshire

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