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Thames Gateway design gurus set to disband after clash of the titans

The elite group of architects brought together to improve design standards in the Thames Gateway is unlikely to meet again, the AJ has learned.

A source close to its sponsoring agency, the London Development Agency, has warned that a battle of architectural personalities on the London Thames Gateway Design Panel has led to the dramatic rethink.

The insider warned that the committee - which was staffed by such luminaries as Norman Foster, Richard Rogers and Will Alsop - is unlikely to be reinstated in its current form.

Other panel members included Terry Farrell, Ricky Burdett, David Adjaye and Mohsen Mostafavi.

The source also claimed that charette design work carried out by Foster and Alsop to give the Thames Gateway scheme 'some visual coherency' would now 'never see the light of day'.

He added that too much had been asked of the committee in the first place.

'There was a fundamental problem because the committee was expected to make up for the structural planning deficiencies of the whole Thames Gateway project,' he said.

'It was unrealistic to hope that a committee that only meets four times a year could achieve this stated aim.

'But there was also a problem of competing egos, which was troubling if you were trying to create a cohesive vision for the whole area. This resulted in work that was carried out by Norman and Will being sat on,' he added.

The source also said there was conflict within the group. 'In general, there was one dominant group that did not seem interested in the ideas of other people in the committee. This was always going to happen and makes it strange that they were brought together in the first place,' he said.

'The committee will not be brought together again in its current form. I would expect it to become a group made up of Richard, Ricky and Mohsen,' he added.

But Will Alsop insisted the committee would reform in the summer. 'We needed to have a break,' he told the AJ. 'We needed someone to go away and come up with a coherent vision for the whole site.

'That's where we are up to and I fully expect us to be brought back in to look at the vision. We need to take another look at it all,' he added.

by Ed Dorrell

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