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Gehry defends his King Alfred plans
12:17pm Friday 28th January 2005 in News
Architect Frank Gehry flew to England from America to defend his £290 million designs for a housing and leisure development.
The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) had said it was worried about some aspects of the proposals for the King Alfred Leisure Centre in Hove.
It said, although it welcomed the "bold proposition" of his plans, which includes 754 flats, it was concerned about the impact the height and form of residential blocks might have on neighbouring properties.
It was worried that entrances to the affordable apartments, which surround the leisure centre and two main towers, "appear mean and lack presence" and said corridors "could be wider".
Some balconies did not have enough space for a table and four chairs and more work was needed on the sports centre to bring the "invention of the exterior to the internal spaces".
The comments, first made last year, persuaded Mr Gehry to fly to London from his LA offices earlier this month to talk through his proposals with CABE in further detail. At the meeting on January 20, also attended by Brighton-based developer Karis and English Heritage, experts were shown additional drawings and plans in a bid to reassure them their concerns were unwarranted.
CABE has refused to comment on the latest briefing and said it would publish its reaction in the next few weeks.
But an article in the Architects' Journal claimed the experts remain concerned about the height and size of apartment blocks. It even speculated that Mr Gehry would submit a fresh planning application for the project, which is due to be considered by Brighton and Hove City Council's planning committee later this year.
However, Josh Arghiros, chairman of Karis, said: "It's not for me to comment on behalf of CABE but I'm sure both they and English Heritage were more than happy about what we showed them at the meeting.
"The impression I went away with is that they are pleased and excited by the project."
Karis does not require CABE's approval to win planning consent, but such approval might help persuade members of the planning committee the development was appropriate.