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CABE slays FaulknerBrowns for 'megastructure' plan

The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (cabe) has told FaulknerBrowns that a 'megastructure' scheme it has designed for a 4.3ha site in Croydon is outdated, is of poor quality and lacks a human scale - the architects should scrap it and start again.

cabe's design-review committee last week attacked the project proposed for a long-vacant site adjoining East Croydon station as a 'fundamentally misconceived', 'mainly inward-looking building' and branded it a 'largely discredited model for a town centre development'.

The plans, which include a 10,000 seat indoor arena, 230-bed hotel, 444 residential units, swimming pools, cinemas, retail and restaurants and bars, fail to make satisfactory connections to the surroundings, cabe said. The project also includes five residential towers of 'inadequate' architectural quality', and neglects the human scale. cabe instead recommends turning away from the megastructure model and its problems, such as maintenance and the difficulty of redeveloping the site in the future. 'This is a very large site and a quarter in its own right' said the design review committee. 'This should be the starting point for the design: to create a small quarter, made up of pieces, not a single large building.'

cabe also heavily criticised another scheme on a prominent site, this time by ml Design Group in Wandsworth. The large speculative housing scheme's architecture, branded 'developers' riverside', 'falls a long way short of standards demanded' and proposes more accommodation than the site can hold, said cabe. It was also considered 'overbearing' and to have a 'deleterious impact on Chelsea Bridge'.

And cabe was only slightly more impressed with a controversial scheme by Long & Kentish with Colin St John Wilson for a new six-gallery extension to the 1712 Grade I-listed Pallant House in Chichester (below left). cabe said it supported the principles of the scheme, which was attacked by the Georgian Group a fortnight ago (AJ 27.1.00) but feels that the North Pallant elevation is problematic. 'We do not believe that the result seen as a whole is a success.'

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