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Miami mavericks to make UK debut with mixed-use West End scheme

Arquitectonica working up mixed-use development for central London site

US design maverick Arquitectonica is working up plans for its first UK scheme on Whitcomb Street, central London.

According to developer Hobhouse, the Luxembourg-based property company behind the scheme, the project, behind the National Portrait Gallery off Trafalgar Square, includes ‘new shops, offices and residential accommodation that will improve the area, while respecting its historic character’.

Bermondsey-based Brisac Gonzalez Architecture will work alongside the Miami-based practice on the scheme, which is a stone’s throw from Woods Bagot’s controversial Odeon scheme for the Edwardian Group, slammed by Rowan Moore in The Observer.

Arquitectonica was formed in 1977 as an ‘experimental studio’ by Bernardo Fort-Brescia and Laurinda Spear and is known for quirky designs, including the Atlantis Condominium, a glass tower block with a hole through the middle which featured in the title sequence of 1980s cult TV show Miami Vice.

The firm also has offices in New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Manila, Dubai, Lima and São Paulo. While it has worked in mainland Europe, running projects out of its Paris office, the firm has never before cracked the UK market.

A Hobhouse spokesman added: ‘A planning application is being submitted to Westminster City Council in the near future.

‘The proposal by Arquitectonica is one of a number of schemes in the area which will improve the environment surrounding Whitcomb Street, enhancing this link between Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square.’

The project team includes Richard Coleman of townscape consultants Citydesigner.

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