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Star van Egeraat returns to UK with east London masterplan

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Erick van Egeraat is to make a surprise return to the UK - almost two years after closing his London office.

The Dutch architect, together with urban consultant Aitken Leclercq and landscape architect J&L Gibbons, has been picked to masterplan most of Canning Town, on the edge of the Olympic Zone in east London.

The move will certainly raise a few eyebrows. When his practice decided to pull out of Britain, following the loss of The Photographers' Gallery and Royal Shakespeare Company commissions, van Egeraat was unequivocal in blaming the UK's difficult and 'time-consuming' planning system for his decision to close his 10-strong London studio (AJ 13.01.05).

The office, which was originally set up in 1998, finally shut down in early 2005.

However, the architect is now back on British shores after winning a European Union tender and is set to work with the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation, the London Development Agency, English Cities Fund and Newham Council on a seven-month masterplan programme.

The van Egeraat consortium has been asked to 'start immediately' on the redesign of a 66ha site, which will take in 'the whole of the town centre' next to a key travel interchange.

Meanwhile, van Egeraat's only surviving project in UK, his £19 million art gallery and civic square in Middlesbrough, is due to open to the public in the New Year.

by Richard Waite

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