The proposed new building at St George's Circus designed by bdp (aj 10.2.00) satisfies South Bank University's need to concentrate its activities at the Elephant and Castle campus. It is a mixed-use building providing flexible teaching space for a wide range of academic uses, a swimming pool and sports hall in partnership with the London Borough of Southwark, and lecture theatres, exhibition space and amenities for use by the university and the local community.
The university is keen to maximise the potential use of the site, and the proposed building, though large, is well tailored to its context and is not out of scale with its immediate neighbours or with the surrounding area.
The terrace of houses which would be demolished is a small scale and isolated urban fragment which has long been neglected. The buildings have been derelict for 10 years, and have been significantly adapted and modified.
In 1995 an application was made for their listing and English Heritage considered they were of no historical importance.
If we are to regenerate our cities we must sometimes make space for buildings which have to satisfy our current and future needs. In this particular case we should be cautious in our judgment of the value of the existing buildings compared with the regenerating qualities of the new proposal. In this instance the needs of the university and the community should outweigh the argument for preservation.
Kit Allsopp, South Bank University