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Campaigners oppose changes to Hopkins' Norwich Forum

Campaign group the Norwich Society has condemned ‘the piecemeal development’ of Hopkins Architects’ Forum digital hub building in the city.

On Thursday (17 April) the city council is expected to approve new plans by Norwich-based LSI Architects to remodel the façade of the 2001 project, reconfigure the interior and add a new entrance on the south side of the brick horseshoe-shaped building.

However, the Norwich Society has ‘questioned the benefit’ of these plans, saying the proposals could damage the landmark, which it believes will be listed ‘as soon as this is possible.’

Society chairman Jeremy Taylor is particularly worried about plans to enclose the area beneath the overhanging south wing at the front of the building. He said: ‘This wing articulates the structure and the brickwork, and filling it in with glass it makes the front much heavier.

‘The changes do not take into account the articulation of the columns against the brick walls – a disaster since the scheme must take account of the symmetry of the main facade.’

The planning officers, meanwhile, have given the proposals their muted support claiming that while ‘there are reservations concerning the effect of the proposed external alterations on the overall architectural design of the building it is considered that on balance these are outweighed by the advantages of the greater flexibility which the re-organistaion [will] realise.’

Surprisingly Hopkins has also thrown its weight behind the LSI Architects’ scheme, although it admitted it was also uncomfortable with the south wing proposals, saying they ‘could detract from the main architectural feature of a large covered space leading to the main entrance'.

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