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Egeraat makes UK breakthrough - with mesh

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Erick van Egeraat Associates (EEA) has won planning permission on its first ever building in the UK - a startling mesh-draped 13,000m 2office scheme in London's Clerkenwell.

The breakthrough came in a joint application with Hamilton Associates, which has designed a 206-unit housing development on the same 1ha site. The area was masterplanned by EEA, which has a 15 strong office in London.

EEA's developer, Media Offices, had lined up an international field of competitors for the £60 million job. These include Rem Koolhaas, Frank Gehry, MVRDV, Eric Moss and just one UK practice, Future Systems.

Developer Mark Wadhwa said: 'I don't think it's an indictment of British architecture but talent in the UK has gone into large firms that have become quite commercial.

'Erick has a subtle sense of touch - modern but beautiful and with feeling. Some of the others were more theoretical in their approach.

Dutch architects also bring a landscaping element to design. There is that skill in Holland of looking at the space around the building.'

Landscape architect Easchus Huckson has also been drafted in.

EEA had drawn up proposals for other UK work, for an arts centre in Lichfield and the Photographers' Gallery in London, but neither project came to fruition. It is currently drawing up plans to reshape the Royal Shakespeare Company's complex of three theatres in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The five-storey Clerkenwell proposal includes a veil made from a flexible stainless-steel mesh which conceals an internal street at ground level, for which planning permission has been granted on uses such as a supermarket and gallery.

But the most dominant elevation on St John Street is Hamilton Associates' housing scheme for Berkeley Homes. It stretches back across the site in four blocks and consists of one-, two- and three-bed apartments.The St John Street block is clad in copper and glass, while the other three blocks use zinc and glass.

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