It seems there’s always someone who objects to any new development, but when that person is none other than Richard Rodgers perhaps it’s time to take notice. Here’s an article written by Elizabeth Hopkirk and recently published in bdonline.co.uk, where he explains his reasoning.
Levitt Bernstein scheme criticised as ‘wrong development in wrong place’
Richard Rogers has joined a host of architectural luminaries campaigning to stop a Levitt Bernstein project “doing great harm” to London’s grade II-listed Brunswick Centre.
The Rogers Stirk Harbour founder is one of more than 250 people who have signed a petition against plans to insert a restaurant, known as the Eyecatcher, above the Renoir cinema.
Opponents say the restaurant, based on a 2002 consented proposal by original architect Patrick Hodgkinson, would block views up into the A-frame of the megastructure.
Rogers said: “Building a restaurant in the middle of the Brunswick Portico will do great harm to one of the greatest modern buildings in Britain.”
The petition, urging Camden council to reject the application, has also been signed by Twentieth-Century Society director Catherine Croft, former Cabe chairman Paul Finch and post-war architectural historian Barnabas Calder.
Alan Powers wrote: “The view through gives me daily joy – don’t spoil it.”
Levitt Bernstein’s founders worked with Patrick Hodgkinson on the 1960s residential and housing complex – whose concept was influenced by Leslie Martin – and the practice also worked on a celebrated refurbishment.
The design of the Eyecatcher has already been revised to pull back a cantilevered element.
In its design and access statement the architect said the intervention would be a “sympathetic addition”.
“The proposed Eyecatcher is located within the east elevation portico entrance. The site has a prominent location and is clearly visible from Brunswick Square,” it added.
“It is intended that this new development will provide a visual ‘draw’ to the Brunswick Centre within.
“The size of the plot belittles its significance within the development. The intention is provide an iconic piece of contemporary architecture which sits at ease with its historic neighbour.
“The Brunswick Centre has successfully been established as an exemplar regeneration project over the last 10 years and the Eyecatcher is seen as a continuation of this ongoing process.”
The practice is working closely with Takero Shimazah Architects which is behind a separate proposal to replace the existing Renoir lobby with a new entrance.
Richard Rodgers’ Objections:
Building a restaurant in the middle of the Brunswick Portico will do great harm to one of the greatest modern buildings in Britain.
Both Reyner Banham and Alan Powers have written about the beauty of the Brunswick Portico, regarding it as one of the ‘few genuinely sublime architectural sights of London’.
The scale of the portico and the way that it introduces transparency into what is otherwise a solid, sculptural building is breathtaking.
Putting a restaurant in the middle of the portico wedged between the cinema and the flats will do great harm to the building and the wonderful piazza below.
Please say no to this proposal.
Twentieth Century Society Objections:
The Brunswick Centre is one of Britain’s great modernist masterpieces. Wedging a long rectangular box into the void of the grand entrance portico and on top of the Renoir cinema would harm this grade II listed building, and overshadow the piazza below.
We would also lose fantastic public views up into the vast concrete A-frame structure of the complex that are only visible from this space under the portico. It’s the wrong development in the wrong place.
Here’s some footage of the Brunswick Centre. What do you think? Should this design be held back or is this just another case of status quo disease? Let us know what you think.