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CABE attacks Seifert's 'crude' Royal Victoria Dock scheme

The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment has slated John Seifert & Partners' plans for the Royal Victoria Dock in London, branding them 'crude', 'naive' and 'absurd'.

CABE's design review committee tore into the proposals for a 400-room hotel and 325-unit apartment block and attacked the practice's attempt to use marine references, the presentation of the elevations and a lack of subtlety in the design of the roofs. CABE then called for planners to order 'a fresh start' on the project.

Architects at Seifert's Camden offices were guarded in their reaction, saying they are in talks with the commission about the problems. But director Ian Franks said he felt CABE's language was 'too strong for the reality of the scheme'.

Members of the panel included the Peabody Trust's design director Dickon Robinson, Allies & Morrison's Graham Morrison and Piers Gough.

CABE also criticised the area's masterplanner, Benoy, which has submitted outline planning applications for other buildings on the site.

'We acknowledge that the masterplanning on the remainder of the site has some merits, ' the report states. 'But the realisation of the project will be heavily dependent on the quality of the architecture which follows. The indicative drawings. . .do not give us a great deal of confidence.'

CABE is insistent about design quality in Docklands because it wants to counter the 'vast and blank presence' of the new Excel exhibition centre.

At the same meeting, the panel labelled Lifschutz Davidson's scheme to redevelop Teddington Studios as 'straightforward and classy'.

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