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Associated Architects out of tune with locals over Brum recital hall

Birmingham-based Associated Architects' plans to construct a new organ recital hall next to the Midlands' only Grade I-listed railway station have met with hostility from conservationists.

Both the Birmingham Civic Trust and the Victorian Society have reacted with dismay to designs that would transform Philip Hardwick's 1838 Curzon Street Station into the headquarters for the Royal College of Organists. They have written to Birmingham council demanding changes to the scheme's design - currently with the city's planning office.

The controversial project would involve the conversion of the disused station into offices and the construction of an adjacent modern recital hall, which will include a new organ.

But the chair of the Birmingham Civic Trust's planning committee, Steven Hartland, has attacked the scheme, insisting that the hall will detract from Hardwick's 'iconic building'.

'The positioning of the new build is completely incongruous with the station, ' he said. 'I also think the Modernist design makes it completely inappropriate. We should have something that is more in keeping.

'I think this all comes down to style.Associated Architects always seems to want to make too much of a statement, 'Hartland added.

And the local branch of the Victorian Society has other 'reservations'. Local architect Joe Holyoak, a spokesman for the society, said he is 'less concerned about the new build and more worried about changes proposed to the station'.

He called on Associated Architects to 'review' its plans to extend the building upwards, giving it another storey. 'I think they've designed it rather well, ' he said.

'But this is a Grade I-listed building and they should have treated it with more integrity.

'It would be a much better strategy to restore the station within its existing envelope, ' Holyoak added.

However, project architect Ian Standing dismissed the criticism. 'We have tried to make the new building as sympathetic to the old one as possible, ' he told the AJ. 'The idea that our new building doesn't fit in with the older station is something we completely reject.'

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