Michael Aukett Architects has launched a counterattack after CABE savaged its plans for a £240 million mixed-use scheme in Croydon.
CABE's Design Review Committee condemned the 5ha Croydon Gateway project, which comprises a 12,500 capacity arena, office and retail space, 714 residential units and a new healthcare facility - as 'at best a little sketchy'.
But Michael Aukett, who has written a 'terse letter' to CABE's head of design review, Peter Stewart, has accused the committee of 'misunderstanding the scheme'.
CABE welcomed the council's ambition to redevelop the largely vacant plot but said the design was disappointing. 'We are not convinced the scheme lives up to the ambitious vision in terms of planning or architecture, ' its report says.
It also condemned the arena's siting as 'tucked away' and disapproves of the residential towers, which it said 'will not advance the architecture of central Croydon'. Aukett was most frustrated by criticism of the scheme's large covered plaza. 'The junction of the roof and the residential flats is rather inelegant, ' the report says, ' Aukett said no one on the committee understood the design's ambition. 'We are trying to mirror the covered plazas of Berlin; none of the committee members understood the reference.
The committee should have looked at the broader issues. If they didn't understand the context, they should not have tried to comment.'
CABE also examined and approved the Peabody Trust's Kings Crescent Estate in North London by Jestico + Whiles and Stock Woolstencroft. In the same meeting, it gave its backing to Squire and Partners' mixed-use development in London's Paddington Basin.