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Bloomsbury centre faces creamy refurbishment . . .


Brunswick Centre architect Patrick Hodgkinson has submitted a planning application to overhaul the 1970s Modernist 'Gloomsbury' icon for its new owners - and paint it cream.

Hodgkinson is planning to enlarge all the shops and build a new 3500m2 anchor store at the Handel Street end of the development for Allied London, which bought the Brunswick for £13 million last February and wants to enliven its 'dismal' appearance. The £20 million scheme also includes new planting, canopies, entrances, signage and lighting, and the bare concrete will be painted, he says, 'Crown Commissioner cream'.

The developers, which contacted the architect as it was buying the building, are also to 're-brand' the 59,000m2 centre as Bloomsbury's 'High Street', perhaps as simply 'The Brunswick' as it is locally known. The new-look building will also be the new location for the British Cartoon Centre and other cultural bodies. The architect is to narrow the shopping street to create the extra retail space, build new glass canopies to stop shoppers from getting wet and install new paving. Hodgkinson is working with Alexander Wright Architects on design and collaborating with Stubbs Rich Architects as executive architects. He had planned to build in a further storey of residential accommodation, but this plan for 40 further flats, which conforms to view corridor restrictions, may be submitted later. He also wants to reinstate the terrace as public space.

'I have faith in the building although it is in such bad shape,' said Hodgkinson. 'I'd like to see things put right.'

The latest scheme follows a long line of proposals attempting to revitalise the area, including a 90s scheme by RIBA president David Rock and Hawkins/Brown, which Hodgkinson objected to, 'because they were just wrong'. Allied London hopes work will start this spring for a 2001 completion.

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