Chiswick Curve Public Inquiry – week three, developers appeal

 

An architect of ‘unique and remarkable buildings’

Week three of the Public Inquiry into the proposed Curve development at Chiswick roundabout saw the developers Starbones submitting their evidence and the architect Christophe Egret outlining his vision for the 32 storey building intended for mixed use: five floors of offices, with residential apartments above. First of all he presented his credentials, describing some of the buildings he’s worked on in the past. A member of the Royal Institute of British Architects since 1993 and a teacher at the London School for Architecture, he has been part of the design team for such notable buildings as the Shanghai Bank in Hong Kong, the Maison de la Culture du Japon in Paris and the Peckham Library, which won the Stirling Prize in 2000. His track record as an architect is that he delivers ‘unique and remarkable’ buildings.

Left – Shanghai Bank in Hong Kong; Above right – Maison de la Culture du Japon in Paris; Below right – Peckham Library

‘New vistas’

‘London’ he said, ‘is a growing city, and new designs need to be celebrated like new children in a family. The skyline will be altered, new vistas will arrive’. Describing the Chiswick skyline as he imagined it would look in a few years’ time, Christophe Egret said he was looking forward to a “new urban layer” to Chiswick. “The landscape is being redrawn by a number of developments” he said. “You have to go a little bit taller to make sense of developments” (in east Brentford).

‘East Brentford’ is that area behind the Fountains Leisure Centre and the Esso petrol station, where there are a number of development proposals waiting in the wings. He showed a computer generated impression of the skyline looking north from the river and instead of one tall building (the Curve) standing out in splendid isolation behind the old cottages of Strand on the Green, there was a line of them, gently sweeping up in height towards the Curve on the eastern end. The Curve won’t be in isolation, he told the Inquiry.

 

CGI of buildings either proposed or already being built in the vicinity of the Curve

Christophe Egret told in Inquiry that he had considered very carefully the surrounding area. ‘From the outset we were thinking about the conservation areas’ he said. He hoped his scheme would ‘reconnect’ Chiswick High Rd north and Chiswick High Rd south, a connection which had been severed by the building of the flyover carrying the M4. He described the curves of his building as softening the light and the shape being pixillated by the effect of the light striking it at different times of day. He drew snorts of incredulity from opponents when he compared his design with the Palm House at Kew. This was ‘a little bit of a jump’ said the architect, ‘but I’m thinking in the same way’. He also told the inquiry that the building was designed to pick up the colours of the river and the earthy tones of the brickwork of the cottages on Strand on the Green.

Plan showing the exact location of where the Curve would be built; Artist’s Impression of the Kew Gate vision from the London Borough of Hounslow’s Golden Mile Vision and Concept Masterplan; Christophe Egret’s sketch of how the Curve would sit with existing buildings and those proposed for east Brentford.

The architect showed Planning Inspector Paul Griffiths a model of how the area would look. Not all of these buildings have as yet been given the go ahead, but they are in various stages of the planning process. You can see all the documents submitted to the Inquiry on the Planning Inquiry website here.

Left: Model showing the Curve looking towards east Brentford from the east. Top right: Curve looking towards east Brentford from the north east. Bottom right: east Brentford looking towards the Curve from the west

The Inspector Paul Griffiths has until early September to make his report, which will then go to the Secretary of State for a decision.