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CZWG’s revised Croydon skyscraper finally wins approval

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Croydon Council has approved plans by CZWG Architects for a revised skyscraper development including a 68-storey tower

Proposals for the major project in Lansdowne Road include a part 11, part 41 and part 68-storey building, providing 794 homes and 35,000m² of office space. The existing buildings on the site will be demolished. 

The approval comes after a previous scheme for the site – a 69-storey development, including 917 flats and 22,305m² of office space – was refused in June last year.

Although an appeal was lodged against this refusal and a date for a public inquiry had been set for January 2018, CZWG told the AJ this would no longer go ahead. 

A pre-application proposal for the site had previously been presented to the former Strategic Planning Committee in 2014, for a project involving a 57-storey tower, but this was not progressed. 

In 2012, CZWG also won planning approval for a smaller scheme on the site, featuring a 55-storey skyscraper, but this was halted by the developer after initial groundworks.

The most recent report recommending approval for the 2017 plans also stated that Historic England had concerns over the ’proposed scale of the development and consider’, as it would result in ‘harm to the historic significant [sic] of the Alms Houses’.

The statement from the heritage body continued: ’Given the harm identified to designated heritage assets the council would need to be clearly convinced that the increase in scale is demonstrated as necessary and any perceived public benefits could not be delivered with less harmful impacts.’

Previously, design watchdog Design Council CABE – while supporting the ‘principle of a tall building in this location’ – voiced concerns over the scheme’s ‘elevational treatment’.

Architect’s view

The site is at the centre of Central Croydon, equidistant from East and West Croydon Stations. Wellesley Road is the principal north-south highway through the centre.

Lansdowne Road is the connection from the new bridge over East Croydon Station to the eat-west cross-street of the proposed Westfield Whitgift Centre. The surroundings are predominantly freestanding post-war commercial buildings, some now recently converted to residential.

The proposed building is a spectacularly tall landmark denoting the centre of Croydon from a distance and its important location in the townscape closer to. Two residential towers to east and west of varying heights are united on an office podium. The 41-storey west tower relates in height to those already built at Saffron Square and proposed as part of the Westfield Development on Wellesley Road. The higher 68-storey tower emphasises the importance of Lansdowne Road as an east-west link across Croydon, identified in the Alsop masterplan.

The building is well set back on both streets to allow widened pavements and external seating areas. Two new public pedestrian walks lead into the hinterland to commence a network of alternative walking/cycling links through Croydon’s large urban blocks. They meet at a new pocket piazza intended as the south-west quarter of a larger open space provided by other neighbouring developments.

Balconies, winter gardens and brise soleil are the components that animate the external appearance of the building. They are set in relief onto the otherwise regular rectangular curtain-walled elevations of both residential and office spaces. On the south façade, onto Lansdowne Road, they are corralled by curved bronze ribbons into swooping intersecting forms uniting both towers with the podium into one composition figure. One ribbon visually supports a dramatic cantilever of the west tower at the seventh floor. The original inspiration came from Matisse cut-outs and abstract relief sculptures. The east and west elevations have rectangular form components that suggest an edge-on relationship to the building. The north aspect of the building has an L-shaped podium. The west tower, visible down Wellesley Road, is adorned with similar curved forms to the south façade. The higher building sits on the podium. Its curved ribbons define a reverse indent up the height of the tower. The relief elements project above the parapets of the rectilinear form of the towers to create a dramatic silhouette, invoking the heyday of the celebratory skyscraper.

Project data 

Project One Lansdowne Road
Location 1-5 Lansdowne Road and 30 Wellesley Road, Croydon
Client Guildhouse – Rosepride
Project managers Tropus and Spicer
Development manager Guildhouse
Development agency Stiles Harold Williams
Planning consultant Martin Robeson Planning Practice
Architect CZWG Architects
Local authority London Borough of Croydon
Planning permission 21 September 2017 

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