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Controversial 'quill' skyscraper lands planning

SPPARC’s 31-storey student accomodation tower in Southwark has won planning permission despite being slammed by CABE and local residents

CABE deemed the building ‘ungainly’ and ‘over complicated’ however Southwark council approved the plans for the tower last night.

The proposed scheme is for a corner site close to Guy’s Hospital and Renzo Piano’s ‘Shard’ skyscraper in south London. The site’s existing 1960s Capital House will be replaced with a 470-apartment building equipped with bar, gym, library, student hub and cafe. There will also be a landscaped public realm.

The project aims to achieve a ‘BREEAM Excellent’ rating.

SPPARC principal Trevor Morris commented: ‘SPPARC is delighted to have received planning approval for the redevelopment of Capital House, the ambition for this site has always been to produce exceptional architecture that stands apart from many mainstream student living facilities – the scheme will deliver an exemplar development ensuring the building is of the highest quality set within the existing robust urban framework.’


Previous story (14.10.10)

CABE slams plans for ‘quill’ tower

CABE has branded SPPARC’s plans for a 31-storey student accommodation tower in Southwark ‘over complex’ and internally ‘convoluted’

King’s College University London wants to demolish the 1960s Capital House and replace it with a 470-flat quill-shaped building equipped with bar, gym, library, student hub, cafe, together with an area of public open space.

Although the commission felt the site south of The Thames was appropriate for a high building, the government’s design watchdog described the 109m-tall tower as ‘ungainly’ and resulted in ‘awkward and inefficient spaces on plan’ (read full review here).

The review panel went on to criticise the external detailing of the proposals, which were recently re-submitted following a small re-design, saying the concept was ‘over complicated’.

The report concludes: ’[We] doubt that the building is credible to build to the level of quality required for a tall building, either technically or financially.’

In response, SPPARC maintains its design follows an ‘ethos of variety, individual distinction, and freedom’.

Practice principle Trevor Morriss said the project would ‘set a new benchmark in the quality of student accommodation’.

In addition SPPARC claims that the ‘quill’ will achieve BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating thanks to its orientation, its dedicated renewable energy resource on the building’s south east slope, the room configuration inside.

Even so, Southwark Council has received a number of objections about the tower’s presence at ground level.  Christopher Coveney, a solicitor working close to Capital House, said the development would represent ‘an intrusion into a light and airy area’ which in turn would ‘detract from a sense of communal spirit and small scale enterprise’.

The scheme is likely to go before Southwark’s planning committee on November 30.

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