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Gehry scales back 'Tin Can Alley'

Frank Gehry descended on Hove last week to unveil his new, radically scaled-down plans for the King Alfred leisure and housing development - which fly in the face of CABE's recommendations.

The internationally renowned architect was in Sussex last Friday (20 May) for a special presentation to Brighton & Hove city councillors, known to be wary of tall buildings.

Gehry was selected to design the £250 million project in July 2003, but has toned down his original proposals in light of local opposition to the scheme's height, which would have made it the tallest building in Sussex.

The original project, dubbed 'Tin Can Alley' by locals, consisted of four 120m-high towers, resembling crumpled cans.

But complaints forced the design to be scaled back to two shorter towers - the tallest of which is now 84m - and a collection of perimeter buildings, despite CABE's protestations at a design review meeting on 9 February.

Gehry told the AJ: 'CABE thought it was too timid - they thought it should be higher. That surprised me, because there's nothing else that scale down here.

'There was a single question that we have needed to answer since we began - to make a group of buildings that, when built, would look like they are at home and equally wouldn't look like anything else.

'I hope we've produced something that doesn't stick out like a sore thumb and we're going to keep going until we get it right. I didn't want to come here and trash the place. I want to be a good neighbour, ' Gehry added.

The King Alfred scheme is a Gehry/HOK Sport project, which is being developed for Karis Holdings. HOK Sport is collaborating with Gehry to design the sports centre element, while Piers Gough of CZWG, who originally hails from Hove, has been acting as an adviser on the project.

New designs for the King Alfred development have been put together ahead of a planning application to be submitted in August.

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