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Victoria Transport Interchange, London, United Kingdom

Monday 06 Oct 2008

London’s transformation by transport

Victoria Transport Interchange by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates in London, United Kingdom
Images provided by Land Securities 
Victoria Transport Interchange by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates in London, United Kingdom Victoria Transport Interchange by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates in London, United Kingdom Victoria Transport Interchange by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates in London, United Kingdom
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14/10/08 david walker, london
i thought land securities were an "enlightened client "- a developer yes, but we have seen that good design = good business. Buildings such as Eric Parrys on finsbury sq and a more recent one (i think on this WAN site) are more relevant to today (and london) in my opinion, and are good business too. The broadgate development was derided by some but turned into both a commercial success and a good piece of archirecture/urban design. The new buildings near liverpool st with cross bracing are terrible - i would have been ashamed to have them on my drawing board and these at victoria are no better - by the time they are built they will be embarrasing - architects (and clients/developers) have an obligation to improve the built environment. we work in a subjective field, but often this can be made less subjective when analysed. i agree they are not challenging and dealing with local authorities is a great way to stifle anything interesting innovative or enlightened. The good thing is they have prompted some discussion though.
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08/10/08 Nicholas Vincent, London
David, you make a good point regarding the "wavy fins", and in a perfect world I'd rather these weren't included and replaced with something more simple. These "fins" though equal height and height equals square feet so Land Securities, having already seemingly abandoned their towers will likely fight hard to keep them in some form or another. I don't agree with your comparison to the 1960s. Where are there buildings like the one proposed by KPF that were built in the 1960s? The extensive use of glass when combined with the cross bracing, cut-aways, "fins" and the overall density of the building make this very much a building of and for today. The design is of today and thus sympathetic because it manages to incorporate so many tried and tested (albeit from other decades) themes and there isn't really very much in the schemes design to challenge either you nor I, or the patience of Westminster City Council. This site hasn't been singled out for something truly challenging and unique, and thankfully so, since Victoria probably couldn't accommodate it. My preference here would be for something a lot more conservative, (along the lines of Paternoster Square in the City of London) which would likely include a combination of Portland stone and glass, together with a whole lot more public space than the present scheme presently offers. But why would Land Securities go for a scheme with these principles where their financial return would inevitably be smaller? They're not after all doing any of this for us.
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07/10/08 Nicholas Vincent, London
Land Securities latest proposal for their primary undeveloped Victoria landholding certainly represents a vast improvement on their first set of plans, though further modifications to the schemes design should continue to be made. The scheme as it is presently planned is not complete. There lacks architectural continuity between the different buildings, something this site and particularly Victoria more widely deserves, and the danger now is, what is eventually built will not best serve the countless millions who will inevitably pass it by. Sites of this size that are owned by single companies are rare in London, and it is therefore important that proper scrutiny be paid to the fine details of any such scheme.

KPFs plans for their portion of the site should be applauded. They have brought sympathetic modernity (there are thankfully no woefully inappropriate towers) to an area which can comfortably accommodate such architecture, so long as heights are controlled and there is enough of that particular strain of architecture so as not to simply add to Victoria's muddle of styles. This is why, and with KPFs plans as the benchmark standard and design, further continuity in the remaining buildings should be insisted upon.

Benson and Forsyth's Building 5 as it is presently planned should not belong in the scheme. Although incorporating stone, for the noble intention of anchoring it to its nearby Regency terraces, it fails in its attempt due to excessive height, its 1960s squareness, bulk and cut ins (particularly at its upper levels) and its otherwise all-round unattractiveness. It would be better for the KPF scheme to continue up to the road (though for the height to be decreased upon reaching the road, and for the pedestrian streets to remain within the schemes) than for Victoria to endure yet another afterthought.

Lynch Architects Building 6a conforms more positively to the schemes KPF benchmark than Building 5 does, though here again, there exists unnecessary divergence where continuity should rule supreme. Although there is great architecture in the design, what Victoria needs is harmonious transition, not subtle competition.

For Land Securities this is of course a landmark scheme and one (like any other) which they will be seeking to squeeze ever last square foot from. A word to Westminster City Council and Land Securities however. This is a once in a generation chance to contribute significantly to Victoria as a whole and that a view to the longer term should be the only view we take here. Therefore heights should be appropriate and even reduced to below maximum recommendations levels, the eventual design should continuous and comfortably accommodated within Victoria and that some square feet here should be conceded for the greater good which Victoria deserves.
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07/10/08 david walker, london
NV - are we looking at the same pictures???? KPF'S "symapthetic modernity" as you call it consists of a 60's glass box with "wavy" fins on and a bit of '80's cut-away and cross bracing - it is horrible. I do agree with you in other ways in that the site and Victoria deserve the best architectural response - but the KPF scheme as a benchmark.??????........please no!
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VTI2 to transform lifeless Victoria Street in latest regeneration scheme 

For several years, Transport for London have been undergoing a series of advancements in London’s famous underground system to ease congestion, particularly prevalent in central London, and to make travelling in Europe’s largest city as comfortable as possible. But surrounding the internal developments of the labyrinthine underground network are those cropping up more visibly in the streets of London. A landmark design for Blackfriars Station which will once again abridge the station at either side of the Thames was revealed in September, similarly other stations including Shepherd’s Bush have been remodelled to accommodate the ever increasing stream of travellers through the bustling city.

But the latest developments in London’s travel lifeline are issued not in transport itself but in a trend for regeneration through transport. Part of the London Plan, developed under former Mayor Ken Livingstone in 2001, is the encouragement of high density building around transport nodes in the city. The concept is to reduce further travel horizontally and instead encourage those working and living in the city to climb vertically in commercial and residential towers based around key central stations, developed to cope with capacity travel. The latest of these to be revealed is the Victoria Transport Interchange, aka VTI 2.

A development by investors Land Securities, VTI 2 will occupy a 2.5 hectare site close to Victoria Station, the capital’s busiest transport hub with approximately 115 million passengers each year. Upon planning approval, a development of six buildings with office space, private and affordable housing, retail and leisure units will be created.

Richard Coleman, townscape advisor for the project said it will be a massive transformation for an important area close to Victoria Station: “Currently the interior of the site is dormant and of no urban value. The existing streets are underused because they go nowhere. The recasting of the area, with streets following desire lines, and very high quality architecture will serve people’s needs and pave the way for redistributing the bus station uses presently cluttering up the forecourt of the station which has more people using it than heathrow airport. The heights of the buildings are very carefully calculated, in consultation with the city council, to respect the setting of Belgravia, Buckingham Palace and views from the Royal Parks.”

The plans represent a similar regeneration to those presented in Renzo Piano’s London Bridge Tower, aka Shard of Glass. These schemes offer particular regenerative efforts due to a legal agreement, Section 106, which is created to protect areas where larger developments are planned. It allows additional development to adjacent areas which may be affected by the larger scheme. This system runs side by side with the London Plan in encouraging regeneration of facilities creating a balance between public and corporate benefits.

The VTI 2 development is a collaboration between world-renowned Kohn Pedersen Fox and the less known Benson and Forsyth and Lynch Architects who will design the residential aspects of the project. If planning approval is granted construction could begin in 2010. Land Securities plans for Victoria will continue with the submission of plans for approval at Selborne House on Victoria Street and Wellington House in Buckingham Gate in the coming weeks.

Niki May Young
News Editor

Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

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