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Peter Cook’s CRAB Studio goes back to drawing board in Bournemouth


Peter Cook’s CRAB Studio has come up with new designs for a proposed Innovation Studio at the Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) after initial plans were dropped

The north London practice’s original proposals for a jigsaw-like block in Talbot Village, Poole, were approved in late 2017 and had been expected to start on site in November 2018.

This two-and-a-half storey scheme featured prefabricated cross-laminated timber panels, which would have been left exposed on the inside and treated with pigmented polymer sheeting on the exterior.

However, following objections to the approved design and to a planned 60-week road closure to allow construction of the 600m² building in Fern Barrow, the university has gone back to the drawing board.

Although still orange, the new, smaller two-storey structure sitting between the existing Workshop Building and University House is described as ’a simple shed, steel-framed with concrete floors and a corrugated metal roof’.

The design and access statement from the new application, which was submitted in late August, reads: ’The revised scheme is for a smaller building which recognises concerns which were previously expressed in some quarters regarding the angular nature of the building edges and issues regarding the practicalities of constructing the studio (including a potentially lengthy road closure).

’The revised proposal still achieves an innovative and creative design, reflecting the creative spirit and ambition of the university.’

The bilious orange finish, reminiscent of an EasyJet office building, has no relevance to the AUB

Despite the changes, the reworked designs have already received a further 17 objections, including one from a local resident who said: ’While this latest building design is less dominating by virtue of its size, the bilious orange finish, reminiscent of an EasyJet office building, has no relevance to the AUB. ’

A new committee date has not yet been set.

Aub crag redesign sept 2019 collage

Original scheme (left); revised proposals (right)

Original scheme (left); revised proposals (right)

Cook Robotham Architectural Bureau (CRAB) was formed in 2006 after Archigram founder Peter Cook and Gavin Robotham co-curated the British Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale.

Cook, an alumnus and visiting professor at the Arts University Bournemouth, has already built one structure at the institution: the blue monocoque Drawing Room, which was opened by Zaha Hadid in 2016 and was Cook’s first building to complete in the UK.

Work is expected to start towards the end of the year.

The practice has been contacted for comment.

Stuart Bartholomew, vice chancellor at AUB

We have been pleased to engage an alumnus, Peter Cook, to design his second building on the campus. The Innovation Studio will house young designers making their steps towards professional practice. The building, as with the completed Drawing Studio, will encourage innovation and creativity, the hallmarks of the Arts University.

The original and favoured design fell foul of proposed road closure by the transport authority and for an extended period. The CLT construction with key materials sourced from Austria also raised issues of supply in any post-Brexit environment. The revised design, whilst using traditional construction, retains strong design elements and characteristic of Peter’s work with the CRAB practice. Work will commence in the latter part of 2019 with completion in the summer, 2020.

A controversial building which has attracted positive and negative reception from the adjacent residential community, it will make a significant contribution to the architectural portfolio of the town. The Arts University celebrates the commission which will mean that there are two buildings in the UK by the internationally celebrated architect Peter Cook.



Readers' comments (3)

  • test

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  • A shame that the original design couldn't go ahead - but a 60-week road closure is not to be sneezed at, and it's surely surprising that there was no feasible alternative - not even, presumably, temporarily creating a scaffold deck over the road, narrowed if necessary with traffic light control.

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  • Looks like a bad acid trip...maybe that’s intentional from the old hippy!

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