After years of attempts and aborted schemes, an architect has won planning permission to refurbish and redevelop the retail mall at Patrick Hodgkinson's Brunswick Centre for its new owner, Allied London - despite continued opposition to the proposals by Hodgkinson himself.
Hawkins/Brown hopes to remove an area of overbearing concrete deck in order to open up the mall, and to construct two lightweight pedestrian bridges across it to link the playdeck, in place of the present concrete bridge.
The retail floorspace will be increased, including the addition of new glazed canopies over the mall and new lightweight retail units within it, and the extension of the western, Marchmont Street frontage. There will also be an increase in restaurant provision. Hawkins/Brown also intends to remodel the southern, Bernard Street entrance to the centre, as well as generally upgrading the retail part of the complex.
The Brunswick Centre lies just outside the Bloomsbury conservation area and was finished in 1973 by Marchmont Properties. Today there are 400 flats in the building, 230 of them for sheltered housing and 35 privately owned. The committee report noted that the shopping centre was 'gloomy and unattractive . . . neglected and uncared for' with a number of vacant shops.
However, a potential obstacle to changing that is the building's certificate of immunity from listing, which runs out on 1 April. Aborted attempts to turn the centre around in the past have included one proposal for two new residential blocks by Leriche Maw Architects, and one to build a stand- alone,12-storey building for 60 flats in front of the entrance from Brunswick Square. Unpopular at the time, the scheme would have been refused by the council because of its 'size, location and design', had it not been withdrawn. The architect was riba president David Rock at Camp 5, working with . . . Hawkins/Brown.
One of the key features of the new-look Brunswick will be the new canopies with transparent glass roofs (see also right)
The scheme includes new shopfronts, planting, seating, surfaces, lighting and a new restaurant unit
PROPOSED SECTION THROUGH RESIDENTIAL SCHEME AND MARCHMONT ARCADE