Posted by: elizabeth hopkirk18 February 2013
Here’s a great example of a building bringing the community together.
Not the Heygate Estate. Not the Bilbao Guggenheim. Not a much-loved local pub. Not a church. Not the latest pop-up.
It was voted England’s ugliest building, and it’s coming down.
Crowds gathered to watch demolition work begin on Bournemouth’s Imax cinema on Friday – and the council has set up a web cam so you can watch its progress too.
That’s more interest than the hulking box of a building generated in its unsustainably short lifespan.
It was only completed in 2002 but shut three years later because no one bought tickets.
The Waterfront Building, to give it its official name, was ugly as sin.
But its worst crime was its response to its site.
Bang in the centre of Bournemouth, right beside the beach, it enjoyed one of the most beautiful views in England.
Just the place for a cinema. Ccinema audiences always appreciate a good view.
It stood at the bottom of the East Cliff where the coast road sweeps round past the pier and up to the West Cliff (passing the beach via a flyover - but that’s a whole other issue).
The site had been empty since 1986 when some old Victorian baths were demolished.
Thanks to the extraordinarily slow machinations of Bournemouth council, locals had spent nearly 20 years drinking in the stunning views across the Solent to the Isle of Purbeck.
When I worked down there as a reporter we lost track of how many proposals had been made to bring a bit of vim to the seafront. All were rejected as being “too Blackpool”.
When the Imax was approved the town went into shock – first because something had got past the councillors and then because it was so awful.
The developers, having the council over a barrel, built it higher than they’d applied for and got away with it.
Bournemouth never forgave them for ruining their view.
And finally they’ve got their revenge.
Wisely, the council is going to replace it with nothing. An “events space” will host silent discos and street performers. However naff, at least it will be flat.
The first event should be a dance… on the grave of the Imax.