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Friday01 August 2014

Cabe critiques new Chelsea Barracks plans

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Revised plans for Chelsea Barracks drawn up by Dixon Jones, Squire & Partners and Kim Wilkie Associates fail to meet the needs of the 21st century, Cabe has warned

In a design review published this week, the quango said the Qatari Diar-developed project – which was originally designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners before the firm was sacked following Prince Charles’s intervention last year – had to be “able to evolve over time like other parts of the city”.

The revised scheme – which is currently in for planning at Westminster Council – includes 363 apartments, a hotel, sports centre, retail space, and a health centre. It is inspired by London’s traditional garden squares.

Cabe said it commended the quality of the proposal and welcomed its “elongated squares”, but added that the project needed to be less formalist and more flexible in meeting the “more varied” surrounding area. It also said the proposed development was not ambitious enough in allowing for “a modern, sustainable, low-carbon lifestyle, community engagement and social interaction”.

Dixon Jones founder Ed Jones, said modern architecture was not “antipathetic” to traditional square designs.
“We hope that, in reintroducing the London square for the first time in 100 years, we can do that with a modern face rather than in fancy dress,” he said.

Jones added that “blending in” was not what made the capital interesting and characterful. “London is full of these abrupt changes in character and that is something we welcome,” he said.

In an initial report, London mayor Boris Johnson broadly welcomed the plans but called for minor changes, such as more environmental measures.

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Readers' comments (6)

  • tesserae

    Do most architects fall in love with their designs? They should do, but there are many, just in this week's edition which I would wager were actually defensive strike outs at greater society as we all have to endure increasingly each day. In such an atmosphere we really do need calming architecture, but hardly anyone knows how to do this anymore, hence the prerequisite that the design team should really adore their own work, because this might be the single criteria that rescues the design. For instance one architect who often gets himself into these pages for better or worse, I believe loves his system of design rather than the finished product, and this could even apply to more than just this one personage. The so called cleverness and expence of the system can infatuate those not really relating to the site and environment at all. Maybe they should declare their loves too!!!

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  • tesserae

    Also again, why not change the name of this project to Chelsea Gardens Project and see what comes out of the hat!!!!!

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  • What does this Cabe blurb actually mean? I invite their representative to come here and explain clearly what they mean by "able to evolve over time like other parts of the city” or how the scheme, forced to have social housing and other community buildings on site, needs to do more for "community engagement". Like what precisely? The roads and buildings are there, I live in the community, if I want to engage with it I walk through it. If I don't, I walk round it. What do they want an inanimate scheme to do to engage me? Why does it have to engage me at all? Social interaction? Why? The residents of this scheme should be able to interact with whoever they damn well want. Cabe sounds like it's trying to socially engineer again. Just stop it.

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  • Less formalist? I disagree what's wrong with that exactly. Are not most of London's more successful residential squares a formal exercise in restraint and architectural control? Cabe's comments throw more arguments up than actually explaining how to solve them, if infact they need solving at all.

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  • Vincent Wang

    The CABE comments, as reported, belong is Pseuds Corner. They are meaningless claptrap. Who writes this stuff, and why do we pay them to do so?

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  • tesserae

    The problem with squares everywhere on the building, in the gardens, etc is that where ever one stands there is almost an indentical view of form, one corner is much like the other, ie not much variety . On a large site the options for variety from observing from one spot should be vast. When masses hug the curve of the street, immediatly variety and landscape are incorporated in the masses, from then on it should be easy to create variety and something meanfully visual, not to mention a pleasant place to reside.

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