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Avery alarmed by IMAX plans

IMAX designer reacts to plans to ‘carve and remodel’ London landmark

The designer of London’s IMAX cinema, Bryan Avery, has voiced concerns over changes that could be made to the landmark building as a result of the Waterloo City Square project, won in competition by London-based practice DSDHA.

Avery, whose cylindrical IMAX was completed in 1999, has reacted with alarm to a design statement published on the project website, which states that DSDHA intends to ‘carve, remodel and overclad’ the building (see picture, below left).

Avery said: ‘Why, when Lambeth Council only just got this building up, can you consider taking it down or altering it so soon? The money could go elsewhere on the South Bank.

‘This competition was ostensibly for public improvement of the area, which, on the face of it, is a good idea, but it seems to be much more than that.’

Avery added that the firm which came second in the competition advocated the demolition of the IMAX in the second phase of its plans.

A spokesperson for South Bank Employers Group (SBEG), which is behind the plans, denied that the winning design will mark the end of the IMAX: ‘At the moment, the main improvement is to access. The plans do have implications [for the IMAX], but I don’t have the specifics. This is still at a concept stage.’

When launching the competition last year, SBEG said the area around Waterloo Road was ‘an eyesore’ with a ‘complex labyrinth of spaces’ (AJ online 28.08.08).

DSDHA declined to comment.

Readers' comments (4)

  • My Library;

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  • Warren Whyte

    I find it incredulous that any fellow architect would want to substantially alter or demolish an award-winning building that is only ten years old, and built with public money. How is this sustainable in today's economic climate? I like the IMAX as a building (I guess I should as I was one of the design team back in 1997!), and do not see how improving the public realm should also result in spending millions on needlessly changing a splendid building.

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  • I really think its a shame if the client and clever architects like DSDHA feel the need to muck about with one of the better new buildings in the area. Bryan Avery is an accomplished architect and he should be involved in any drastic moderation of his building.

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  • I wonder how many readers, like myself were greatly concerned to read the article about the potential ‘carve, remodel and over clad’ to Avery Associates Imax building at Waterloo Bridge? How many artists would even begin to consider adapting another artist’s work to the vagaries of current style, because that is what the very small image reproduced in your article implies. The Imax is a rare and honest contemporary landmark building of high quality design and will survive time and trends with or without the roundabout and must be retained without any stylistic meddling. If as Bryan Avery suggests, the building has now been paid for cannot the backdrop facade be used by artists as a sponsored canvas for their work rather as the Fourth Plinth is used by sculptors, which is as far as I can remember the original concept. I, like a lot of architects am surprised that architects as skilled as DSDHA would contemplate such a proposal.

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