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Lambeth objects to South Bank plan

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London's South Bank Centre looks set to press ahead with plans to redevelop Jubilee Gardens as an elevated landscape in spite of new objections from Lambeth council.

The latest draft of the borough's unitary development plan, obtained by the AJ as it went to press, has condemned the plans as harmful to both the character of the area and the local community.

'Commercial development is an inappropriate use of metropolitan open land. . . there are very few examples which work internationally. The open space would be steep, less useable by the elderly and disabled and intersected by servicing vents, ' says the draft.

But the SBC shortlisted two practices on Tuesday - Rafael Vinoly and FO Architects, and both have shown a willingness to engage with the ideas of Rick Mather's masterplan by blending building and landscape.

The proposal submitted by FO Architects unambiguously stated that its intention was to 'break with the conventional opposition between built structures and open public space'. Rafael Vinoly, however, seems happier to compromise and insists that he is at the earliest stages of reaching a solution. No designs have yet been drawn up.

'The problem hinges on knowing how to deal with a relationship between buildings and their landscape, ' said Vinoly. 'This has not yet been fully explored.'

Mather told the AJ that he is convinced that burying a new concert hall and film centre beneath the gardens represented 'the best of both worlds', in spite of London mayor Ken Livingstone's concerns that ducts, stairs and ramps would spoil the landscape (AJ 15.2.01).

'I'd be surprised if the raised park was to be dropped because there's so much to put onto the site, ' said Mather.

Community groups are angry that they were not consulted over the selection of the shortlist, and feel that they are being sidelined by SBC management. Encouraged by the draft report from Lambeth, Michael Ball, spokesman for the Waterloo Community Development Group, says that raising Jubilee Gardens should not now be considered as an option. 'It hasn't got a cat-in-hell's chance of being built. SBC managers are wasting public money and the time of these architects.'

FOand Rafael Vinoly were chosen from a list of eight practices, beating firms including Zaha Hadid, Future Systems, Itsuko Hasegawa and Ian Ritchie. The two have until Easter to develop their ideas, and a final decision will be made by the end of this month.

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