The architect of Kent's Bluewater shopping centre, Eric Kuhne, looks set to stamp his mark on the South Bank. It emerged this week that South Bank Centre management has held talks with both Kuhne and developer Lend Lease with Shell over the site's retail development.
The talks could end in major changes to the Rick Mather masterplan, which is undergoing public consultation before being finalised at the end of the summer.
Kuhne told the AJ that the controversial proposal to raise Jubilee Gardens to accommodate three floors of leisure and retail below should be scrapped.'The Jubilee Gardens cannot be raised, 'Kuhne said, adding that the commercial space, which will largely finance redevelopment of the SBC arts buildings, should be redistributed across the site and at the neighbouring Shell Centre. This is being designed as a £100 million leisure destination by Eric Kuhne Architects and Arup Associates for Lend Lease and Shell. The commercial aspects of the two developments are now being considered together, according to Kuhne and SBC spokeswoman Sue Rose.
'We are in discussions with the Shell Centre development team and this will feed into the final masterplan, ' Rose said. Mather would not comment beyond saying: 'These are just Kuhne's thoughts and I know nothing about them.'
Kuhne eschews Modernism in favour of narrative architecture and is planning designs at the Shell Centre which will present the theatrical history of the South Bank and the idea that corporations are latter-day merchant princes.