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External appearance

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House style

From the beginning of the competition the question of what to do with Inigo Jones' piazza and the general character of Covent Garden has presented the project with an obvious challenge. We chose to regard the site as an urban block rather than a single free-standing building. This has allowed us to treat the elevational solution to the piazza as separate from the elevational treatments of the surrounding streets.

The project becomes a series of separate buildings with adjacent 'buildings' treated as they would be in a normal street frontage. We accepted that Inigo Jones' arcaded piazza could only be completed in a historically inspired manner with the arcade building. However, Bow Street, Russell Street and James Street can quite reasonably take frontages of a modern design. In addition there are the existing elevations to the theatre and the Floral Hall. The result is a collage of elements and takes a relaxed view of the need for overall consistency.

Stone is used as the common facade material within which to make these distinctions. For the modern facade the stone is a thin, two-dimensional, material and the modelling is provided by the metalwork of windows, shops, etc. This contrasts with the traditional use of stone for the arcade building as a carved material - where the modelling is in the stone itself. The roofscape is, similarly, a free composition of elements. Where the structure rises to roof over the stage areas it is as if a new ground level has been created, marked by the loggia. On this are placed separately expressed elements such as the ballet studios, the flytower, the rooftop studio areas and the core towers. It is as if there is a rooftop village of roh activities and terraces.

Wherever possible, around the perimeter of the project there are shops maintaining the active pavement life of Covent Garden.

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