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Hall McKnight hails planning victory for contentious Strand plans


Hall McKnight has described the approval for its proposed King’s College London Strand campus redevelopment as a ‘significant moment’ for the practice

On Tuesday night (21 April) Westminster City Council ‘resolved to grant planning permission’ for the controversial £50 million scheme which includes the demolition of four historic buildings and the major overhaul of a fifth.

The plans, which have now been referred to the Secretary of State for final sign-off, came in for heavy criticism from objectors who claimed the designs would ‘erode a significant element of glory’ from the neighbouring Somerset House.

SAVE Britain’s Heritage has since vowed to fight the decision, maintaining that the destruction of the ‘buildings of great charm’ between 154-158 Strand would ‘have a visibly adverse effect on the area’s recognised special character and appearance’.

However Hall McKnight insists the practice had carried out a ‘careful study of a remarkably complex environment’ before submitting the plans to create ‘high quality teaching and student commons accommodation’ and revamp the publicly accessible King’s Quadrangle.

The Belfast-based firm also believes the approval will pave the way for the expansion of its recently opened, currently four-strong London outpost.

A spokesman for the firm said: ‘The need to engage in detail with the site and the brief development led us to take the decision to set up a small studio in London which we hope will now grow as we develop the project further, and hopefully obtain new commissions in central London.

‘While still a growing practice with our main office in Belfast we think this demonstrates how a committed team can successfully address substantial, complex and demanding projects.’

Hall McKnight originally landed the project following a competition in 2012.


Readers' comments (3)

  • Kings College is a very complex set of buildings. The challenge of this site is considerable. Replacement of the existing Victorian unlisted buildings has been inevitable for years. I worked on them in 1989/90 and we argued at the time that the pair of Georgian terraces were also so badly mauled that they were not worthy of retention. I'm not convinced that the proposed replacement is as good as it could be in the hands of this excellent practice.

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  • A notable attribute of the existing range of buildings, apart from architectural variety, and interest, is that they're not drab - more than can be said of their replacement, which seems to be following the current widespread trend in London for dark and rather dismal buildings. Does the level of atmospheric pollution justify this, or is it just fashionable?

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  • The buildings are too dark, why not the same colour as Somerset House
    Marc Massin

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