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Live! - News

SEQ Project Pre-application Consultation

Jun 15 2009 13:16
Kirsty Patterson
College hosted an event where local people could voice their opinions and ask questions from the architects of Imperial's newest building project. Live! decided to get in on the action.
A cardboard model... it'll look better in real life.

A presentation and question and answer session was held recently with the architects and college staff championing the South East Quadrant Project. The consultation is part of new planning laws which require an opportunity for members of the local community to put their views accross before planning permission is sought. The exhibition was designed to promote the project's brief, and show how the proposed building design would fulfil these credentials.

Clever Designs *Click to enlarge*

Concept drawings and models were displayed in the SAF Foyer on the South Kensington Campus. The new building will house centralised shared teaching for the whole of the college and give a street side exhibition space where departments can showcase their work. An open plan lower ground floor area wraps around for conferencing and the exterior has been designed to minimise energy demands on the building as a whole. Each of the bays will be angled to face out of the sun to prevent over heating while seeking to maintain the amount of natural light in the room. This is a pioneer in the Higher Education BREEAM (Environmental Assessment Method) Pilot Programme of which the SEQ Project is part.

Lessons have been learnt from the Southside Building, with the pale cream exterior being precision engineered by a Swiss firm to control waste run-off. This will mean the building will maintain its 'as new' look for longer than the, now water marked, blocks on the outside of the Southside Halls of Residence.

A good contingent from Foster & Partners showed up to battle with local residents who turned out to challenge them on their new project as well as the other Foster's Buildings on campus. Foster & Partners represent the 'marmite' of the architectural world. Responsible for such iconic buildings as City Hall, the Sage at Gateshead, the St. Pancras Station Renovation and the Atrium at the British Museum; you either love it or hate it. A student commented that they had chosen Imperial based on the Fosters Buildings on the campus while local residents described them as 'ugly and inappropriate'. Two other passing students conversed: "It's going to look so weird." "Just like the people!"

Exhibition Road *Click to enlarge*

The Exhibition Road Redevelopment also came under attack, with Michael Jones of Foster & Partners speaking in support saying that it is an "international space including the city's foremost museums". He disagreed with residents that the area should be a rival for Trafalgar Square where recent changes have made vast improvements to traffic flow.

Local residents' concerns centred on a perceived "lack of respect to the local buildings." Richard Burgess described himself as 'passionate about architecture and environment' saying his ' overall impression: not good architecture. Yes, it replaces even more awful sixties buildings but it still should be better architecture. The facade is more suitable to the mediterranean or a Dubai Hotel. [It's] so appallingly arrogant in crushing the buildings next door."

Relative Heights *Click to enlarge*

Suggestions that the new building should lose a storey and be set back slightly from the road so that it is less dominant on the buildings to the South were noted. The difficulty faced is that the remaining wing of the Royal College of Science Building (now the Science Museum group entrance) is already dwarfed in comparison to the Natural History Museum and the Goldsmiths Extension of the Royal School of Mines. The new Imperial College Building would be matched in height to the latter of these buildings. By and large those present seemed generally ignorant of the complexities involved in producing the designs, with one lady suggesting that all they did was generate buildings from a computer programme. It is likely, therefore, that many of the suggestions will not be able to be taken on board. The wildest of these was to build a modern interiorg but to encase it in a fake facade to mimic the historical buildings on the street.

Criticism has also been generated by the London Evening Standard where a comment suggested "Imperial is, with out doubt, the ugliest University in England. They have devastated the Kensington area with really "bling" buildings. They are incapable of building any structures of any cultural merit." User-Coordinator for the SEQ Project, Dr. Shaun Crofton responded: "The Evening Standard... does not have a monopoly on style or culture within the capital. The future of Albertopolis should not [be] surrendered to an individual's vision of cultural merit especially if he/she is not a taxpayer."

Live! came away with the impression that it doesn't matter what is put in place of the current mechanical engineering exterior, the residents will never be happy. Similarly, anything that is done will no doubt look better than what is there currently.

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Discussion about “SEQ Project Pre-application Consultation”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Jun 15 2009 14:19

When's this gonna be done?

Jun 15 2009 15:38

Reckon they should have held the consultation on either the fourth or fifth floor of the library:

3. Milli   
Jun 15 2009 16:13

I click and I am not led to an enlarged image

4. :-(   
Jun 15 2009 17:03

404 on larger images

Jun 15 2009 17:08

I really like the design of the new building, and in fact all the new buildings at IC. Surely Imperial should look modern, isn't it supposed to be researching modern/cutting-edge fields in science and technology?

Leave the historical style to Oxbridge I say!

Jun 16 2009 07:53

So when are they going to knock down my lab (south wing of mech eng)? I've heard anything from 9 months ago to no one knows.

Jun 16 2009 08:03

Found it - my lab goes sometime between 2014 and 2016, and my office goes [|late next year].

Shouldn't affect me, hopefully...

8. chris   
Jun 16 2009 08:59

I agree with the residents, its ugy, and dwarfs tanaka

Jun 16 2009 09:38

Not sure why you are getting 404s. Another job for the gremlin.

Jun 16 2009 09:47

The gremlin told you the answer to that yesterday.

11. Editor   
Jun 16 2009 09:49

Do you want to remind me again on msn? You'll have to open a conversation as this computer is really playing up and I can't open or close anything.

12. Owen   
Jun 16 2009 10:10

I have to disagree with post 5. The new buildings which have been constructed at IC in the last few years do not demonstrate our research in modern/cutting edge fields, they demonstrate the lack of coordination and continity between the projects. The blue cube sits next to the bright pink canopy outsite Bessemer, the Tanaka building with it's tall white steel columns is unlike anything on campus and the new entrance to the library just looks as though it's a last minute afterthought. If one walks around college, looking at the buildings you cannot tell me that there has been any effort to create continuity between the new developments or even to make them attractive or impressive to visitors. I've never been a fan of the 'Steel & Glass' architecture anyway but I fully associate with the views of many residents that new buildings in the South Ken area should be in keeping with the existing architecture and not brash, bold, modern structures such as that being proposed.

Jun 16 2009 11:00

I've no problems with modern architecture but all the recent buildings at Imperial (SAFB, Cube, Tanaka - Princes Gardens is a series of cod-Victorian pastiches so not really architecture) have been preety insipid and uninspiring. The College has gone for Foster on the cheap and it shows.

At least the SEQ looks interesting. It may echo Huxley a bit much but that aside it's good.

Jun 16 2009 23:24

1) Huxley is horrible.

2) @ Owen: I think that each department having an entirely different looking building gives each department a bit of character within the college...

Jun 19 2009 00:44

ETHOS is a perfect example of a modern building that fits in well with its environment. Southside and Eastside aren't too bad either.

Prince Consort Road is beautiful, RSM, Albert Mansions, Albert Hall, RCM, Beit is nicely inkeeping... oh and then you get Physics... which is f**king disgraceful oh and Aero and Chem eng is foul too

Jun 19 2009 00:46

They so won't plant those trees... especially as they are about 100ft tall lol!

17. adrian   
Jul 06 2009 00:31

They are f**king ugly.

Jul 06 2009 23:36

They based the designs on your mothers face

19. Flower   
Mar 11 2010 17:30

Does anyone know why Imperial College withdrew the planning application?

Mar 11 2010 17:44

I recall that the planning application was rejected because Westminster wanted them to consider moving the front of the building back from the street. Is there not another application in progress?

21. Flower   
Mar 12 2010 08:55

Nothing showing up in the planning portal for exhibition road.

Rumour in the office yesterday (from someone's "friend" in Foster and partner) was that college had lost ?millions as a concequence of this. That doesn't seem quite right to me - much too much. I've also heard a rumour that they might not be demolishing the black tower owing to a general lack of cash.

Mar 12 2010 11:25

I'd heard whispers of a lack of funds... Will investigate. :o)

Mar 12 2010 11:31

...If you read reporter. I think they metioned that this was being postponed due to lack of funds a week or two ago.

Mar 12 2010 11:58

Heh. Both me and felix missed that one. Incompetent student press or what?! :o)

26. Editor   
Mar 13 2010 12:48

I've fixed the design images in this article. Although that may have been a little pointless, now the project has been shelved.

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