Third time lucky

Thursday 22 Apr 2010

New 'master concept' presented for controversial Chelsea Barracks site

New master plans have been unveiled for the hotly contested Chelsea Barracks site in London. Sole owners and developers of the site, Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment recently revealed a ‘master concept’ plan for the project, although it is yet to feature any solid architectural features. The design was created in a collaboration between architects Dixon Jones, Squire and Partners and landscape architect Kim Wilkie.

This is not the first time that major plans have been presented for this site. Last year, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners designed a modern development for Chelsea Barracks, which was met with such hostility from locals and the Prince of Wales that the plans had to be withdrawn. Architects stood divided over Rogers’ plans; however when Prince Charles presented his own design for the site, a WAN poll discovered that two thirds of architects preferred Rogers’ modernist development to the classic interpretation by the Prince of Wales.

Despite the rejection of Charles’ plans, the new scheme is said to be classically influenced, with a more formal layout than Rogers’ modernist grid of freestanding apartment blocks. So the debate of modern versus classic continues. Whilst the original RSHP plan included three times the specified amount of public space noted in the Council’s brief, the new master plan also presents space for public art, open plazas and a range of public realm elements, including a boutique hotel, a community sports facility and a medical centre. The former Garrison Chapel is also set to play a part in the shift from private to public space, as the new master plan suggests that the local residents and members of the general public present their views on how the structure should be incorporated into the residential design. Detailed building designs are to be drawn up by a variety of architects, all of which are yet to be appointed.

A Qatari Diar spokesman said: “Qatari Diar has a long-term commitment to major investment at this site in order to create a sustainable new neighbourhood for London, delivering both private and public spaces where people will want to be. Extensive public consultation has been central to developing a concept that we believe will be an authentic London landscape yet forward looking in character, capable of adapting over time and therefore truly sustainable.”

Click here to read a previous article on the RSHP plan for the Chelsea Barracks site and here for more information on Prince Charles' involvement in the scheme.

Sian Disson
Editorial Assistant

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