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Gehry wins only 'guarded welcome' from CABE

CABE's Design Review Committee has expressed mixed feelings over the controversial Frank Gehry-designed King Alfred development in Hove.

While the design watchdog has welcomed Gehry's 'quirky' overall designs, it has expressed concern over the project's lower residential blocks.

The committee praised the building as something 'entirely new' for Brighton and Hove - and for being of the same ilk as the Royal Pavilion when it was built.

But CABE raised worries over the need to offer well-designed and well-managed housing along with the project's more iconic elements.

'We are concerned that entrances [to the lower residential blocks] appear mean and lack presence,' said a CABE spokesperson.

'The corridors could be wider or have recesses to the apartment entrances to allow people to pass one another easily,' they continued.

The spokesperson concluded: 'We are concerned that most of the apartments will not have enough private space, such as a balcony, and those that do have balconies are not generous enough to fit a table and four chairs, for example.'

The design overseer also raised concerns that Frank Gehry should be retained on the job until its completion.

'[CABE] is also asking for safeguards to ensure the continuing involvement of Gehry partners in the scheme and prevent later 'dumbing down' of the design' the spokesperson said.

by Rob Sharp

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