Developers are infamous for trying to keep lots of plates spinning in the air at once, but few as literally as developer Deltastar in Brighton, with the company causing dissension and confusion in the city by proposing a tower like a pile of tottering plates, designed in-house and eerily reminiscent of Danish practice 3XN's Nordhavnen Residences in Copenhagen (see page 9). Setting aside the important issues of plagiarism, this seems to be an extremely ill-conceived project, with its determined attempt to make a splash.
Not that far from Gehry's tower scheme for Hove, itself the subject of lengthy and ongoing controversy, this is another attempt at grandstanding. In contrast to Marks Barfield's i360 viewing platform, exactly the kind of attraction that the seaside needs, the tower of plates is just jammed into a street, yelling 'look at me'. Expensive to build, Deltastar's scheme will be predicated purely on the idea of generating above-average sales prices. This is the last thing needed in a city that has a great deal of fine building - but which has also suffered a number of architectural insults.
Much of the construction along the seafront is horrific, its only virtue that it directs the offended eye out to sea, to enjoy the place's main attraction (always blanking out, of course, the ruined West Pier). But Brighton works, with its strange mixture of commuters, alternative householders and hen weekends. Anything that adds to the lightness and joy of the place is welcome, in the same way that Niall McLaughlin's bandstand enhanced Bexhill, and Ian McChesney's shelters adorn Blackpool (see pages 52-65). What Brighton does not want is bombast and derivative design. Developers should be careful not to destroy the delicate balance that makes such a fundamentally unusual place work. If they do, all those plates could come crashing to the ground.