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Archive - Wednesday, 20 April 2005
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Eyesore that has turned into a treasure
The newest jewel in the crown of Brighton seafront was seen in all its renovated glory today.
Workers have been removing scaffolding from the former eyesore tower block Embassy Court following the first phase of a £4.2 million revamp.
As the last was being taken down this morning, the gleaming new cream concrete facade and sparkling windows were revealed in stark contrast to a year ago, when Embassy Court was considered an ugly blot on the seafront.
The 11-storey modernist apartment building had suffered from decades of neglect and was characterised by crumbling and discoloured concrete with rotten and boarded-up windows before the facelift began.
One of the most striking buildings in Brighton is now ready to reclaim its place among the finest examples of Thirties architecture anywhere in the world.
Emma Jinks, chairman of Bluestorm, the residents' company that first seized control of Embassy Court after a long legal battle, then set about raising funds for the revamp, said: "Even I sometimes struggle to believe it is the same building. "The transformation is astonishing."
Long-suffering residents have had to put up with darkness, noise and dirt since building work began last August but say the removal of the scaffolding is a great pay-off.
Builder Greg Brooks said: "You have to put up with the bad stuff to really enjoy the good and since the scaffolding has come off the front, it is an awesome place to live.
"From living in a dark cocoon one minute to having wonderful sunlight washing through the next is a major change and it's great to have these incredible views of the sea back.
"That's why we all moved here in the first place. It was unpleasant with the noise and dirt and dark but there is no question the result is worth it.
"Mind you, there is still a lot of work to do and lots more disruption but people have definitely been buoyed by seeing the front."
Czech designer Lubo Rypka, 30, added: "I was shocked at how dodgy it was when I first came here last July. I thought do I really want to live here?
"But the change is amazing in such a short space of time. I can't believe it is the same place. Having natural daylight really cheers a place up.
"I've got used to the noise and the dirt but the sooner the work is over the better."
Attention now turns to the back of the building, where concrete, doors and windows will be replaced, lifts repaired and the antiquated plumbing and heating systems overhauled. The entire project is due for completion this September Longer-term plans for Embassy Court include a basement swimming pool and gymnasium, refurbishment of the foyer, restoration of a long-lost mural in the reception area and the creation of a showcase flat featuring original Thirties fixtures and fittings.