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Architects sidelined in Earls Court reshuffle

John McAslan and Allies & Morrison have been sidelined from the first phase of Terry Farrell’s £8 billion Earls Court masterplan

Three years ago client Capital and Counties (Capco) appointed a swathe of practices including Allies & Morrison, Make, Studio Egret West and McAslan to work up various phases of the huge west London scheme (see ‘100 architects’ may work on Earls Court).

But it appears Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) and Pilbrow & Partners have been handed most of the initial work and doubts are emerging about whether the other firms will be handed commissions as the housing-led development progresses. 

Global giants KPF and former-KPF star Fred Pilbrow are designing mixed-use and residential schemes within the recently approved first phase, working alongside Farrells and Paul Davis + Partners, both of which were already earmarked within the phase one boundary.

This 16 acre site covers an area which in the 2011 plan included a ‘formal mansion block’ by Allies & Morrison and ‘low rise residential’ housing by John McAslan.

However both firms are no longer involved in taking the planning application forward.

A spokesman at John McAslan + Partners said: ‘We won planning for a tranche of residential but it was not taken further and the commission ended.

The latest revelation comes a year after it emerged that McAslan had been replaced by Paul Davis + Partners on the 800-home Seagrove Road development (now re-named Lillie Square) on the south west boundary of the Earls Court scheme (AJ 13.03.13).

‘It has been rather frustrating,’ said the spokesman.  

And sources at Allies and Morrison also confirmed that the practice was not working on the scheme.

Billed as a ‘work of many hands’, the other practices originally slated for work were Patel Taylor, Studio Egret West and AJ Small Projects-winning Chris Dyson Architects.

Chris Dyson Architects was due to work alongside Farrells in the north end of what is being dubbed a new ‘village’ in the far west of the site, but since the 2011 announcement, practice founder Chris Dyson said ‘it has all gone quiet’.

‘I would have liked to have been involved,’ said Dyson ‘We took it to outline planning and did several blocks but I suspect they want larger commercial firms.

‘I went in to this with open eyes but ideally I would like to do a decent-sized project.

‘It seems large developers like Capco tend to require architects to have £10million PI cover, but unless you are in that game regularly; it is a difficult step to take,’ added Dyson.

Another source at one of the practices appointed three years ago said: ‘There is an expectation of course that having got planning we would take the scheme or at least deliver part of it. But it appears to be the end of the matter; it is not the way we wanted to go.’

This first phase of the masterplan will include 1,200 new homes, a public park called the Lost River Park, and parts of the development’s new ‘high street’ which will have retail, dining, leisure, culture and community facilities.

KPF is designing two large, ‘V’-shaped residential blocks immediately behind the centre which in turn back on to Farrell’s own substantial scheme which follows the eastern edge of the Lost River Park.

In a statement Capco said: ‘We are committed to working with a variety of architecture practices – both big and small - over the 20-year lifespan of the Earls Court development and to ensuring that local business are represented within our supply chain.’

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