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'World-class architects' in running for Elizabeth House rethink

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Developer HB Reavis is in discussion with a number of top-name architects, including Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and BIG, about how to take forward plans for the Elizabeth House office block near London’s Waterloo Station

The AJ understands the Slovakian-based property company has also shortlisted WilkinsonEyre and AHMM for the huge job and is also talking to David Chipperfield Architects – the practice behind a headline-grabbing 29-storey tower scheme for the site, which was approved in 2014.

HB Reavis bought the plot, and the 1965 building currently sitting on it, for around £85 million from London & Regional and Chelsfield earlier this year.

Although the developer refused to comment on the rumoured shortlist in the running to become the new ’design partner’ on the project, HB Reavis confirmed it was looking to work with a ‘world-class’ practice to reassess ‘the current consent’. A statement issued by the company also hints that it could yet proceed with the Chipperfield proposals.

A spokesperson said: ‘We are excited to be the owners of the Elizabeth House site – our fourth and largest major investment into London to date. Having only recently finalised the purchase we will take some time to properly assess the current consent and will be appointing a design partner to support this process. We are therefore currently discussing this site with a range of world-class architects including David Chipperfield to work with us, and of course any changes we propose will be fully consulted upon.

‘We intend to be part of the Waterloo community for years to come and we greatly look forward to making a hugely positive contribution to the local area.’

Chipperfield first landed the project in 2010, when the practice was selected ahead of competition from Grimshaw and Hopkins. The firm subsequently submitted plans for two new buildings, one part 29-storey and part 14-storey, and another of 11 storeys.

The contentious scheme, which proposes 132,000m² of new space, including 142 homes and a range of office and retail space, was eventually approved by Lambeth council in 2014.

Earlier that year English Heritage and Westminster City Council failed in a High Court bid to stop the scheme. Although judge Justice Collins refused the legal challenge, he urged Lambeth to reconsider the scheme’s impact on the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.

In the same year, House of Commons speaker Betty Boothroyd accused the government of failing to protect the heritage of the Palace of Westminster by not calling the scheme in.

The Chipperfield project is the latest in a series of proposals for the south London plot, including Allies and Morrison’s failed Three Sisters scheme, which was rejected by the government in 2009.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • The perspective of image 1/3 might be giving a slightly false impression of the overbearing mass - and grim blandness - of the Chipperfield final design that eventually gained planning approval, but the architectural talent of our times can surely produce far better than this.

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