Doomsday for England's most hated building

23 Feb 2010

Bournemouth Council plans to redevelop despised seafront complex

Bournemouth’s Waterfront Leisure Complex, also known as the IMAX building, has been purchased by the council, following a public vote naming it the country’s most hated building. The UK TV Channel 4’s programme Demolition asked viewers to vote for buildings they would like to see razed to the ground and Bournemouth’s seafront complex came top of the poll. It is expected that the Council will fork out around £7.5 million in total for the purchase and demolition of the building.

Since its opening in 1998, residents have complained that the structure blocks picturesque views across the water to the Purbeck Hills. They have also failed to warm to the dark glass and wavy roof, designed to emulate the sea. After completion, it took IMAX three years to move in and the cinema closed shortly afterwards.

Nigel Hedges, President of Bournemouth Chamber of Trade and Commerce commented: “Prior to the IMAX building, a brick mausoleum housing the swimming baths stood on the site. After it had been demolished it left a gaping hole, which revealed a stunning view to Old Harry Rocks. When a big grey box was dropped into that hole people felt they had been robbed of their view. But there had been no view to start with – at least not while the swimming baths were there. However, I agree that it is not a welcoming looking building. It bears no relation to the architecture around it and I think they could’ve done a better job.”

Bournemouth Council’s cross-party ‘Task and Finish’ group are considering ideas from the public for what should replace the IMAX building and plan to have a recommended shortlist at the beginning of March. After a public consultation, they hope to have a preferred development option at the end of June.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Stephen MacLoughlin said: “We had a really productive first meeting, but have a lot of work to do in the weeks ahead...Overwhelmingly, the public want sea views and the site put to good use. We have already said that we will do this and our plans are to enable the provision of viable, all-weather attractions on the site, that residents and visitors would value and use.”

However, it appears that not everyone is in agreement that the complex should be demolished. Several groups to save the building have also been formed, one of which is led by Councillor Roger West (Lib Dem) who wants the building to remain as it is and to be improved aesthetically by landscaping the surrounding area. Brian Jenner, a political speechwriter, also wants to save the IMAX. He is looking for a venue for his art movement, BomoCreatives, a social networking group for artists, writers and other creative types.

Work on the site is not expected to begin until 2011. The Council are considering plans to create a link with the Tate in London and fill the complex with national and public art in the interim.

Laura Paton

Key Facts

United Kingdom
Civic Buildings

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