Monday, 26 January 2009

Quality of capital`s new buildings slammed

This article appeared in last Wednesday`s Scotsman 21st January page 16 by Brian Ferguson and has the title -

Quality of capital`s new buildings slammed and was a Scotsman Exclusive, it strangely has not appeared online, although this short version appeared in their sister paper The Evening News later that day.

"Scotland`s capital is being saddled with sub-standard develpments and poorly-designed new landmarks, a leading architectural body has claimed.

The Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland (AHSS)warned that inferior schemes were being appoved by Edinburgh council in the rush to secure economic investment.

The society said a vacuum in the planning system means no-one was able to exert influence to ensure high-quality designs.

The AHSS accused the city`s design leader Sir Terry Farrell of remaining "mute" while controversy has raged over major developments such as Haymarket and Caltongate, which triggered a Unesco investigation into the city`s world heritage status.

Euan Leitch, spokesman for the AHSS`s Forth and Borders cases panel said: "There is a perception in Edinburgh that the need for economic developent over-rides the desire for good design and that the planning department must accept proposals already agreed by the economic development team.

Better design need not have been more expensive. Too often we accept inferior architecture hidden behind a thin veneer of sandstone"

Jim Lowrie, convener of planning at the city council, acknowledged improvements were needed in the way major developments were handled , but insisted action was already taking place.

Sebastion Tombs, chief exectutive of A&DS, said "We get involved with major developments at an early stage, but we always agree that our comments during those discussions remain private. Having design competitions could improve things, but they would need developers to agree to co-operate

This is from Conservative Cllr Cameron Rose`sBlog who is on the Planning Committee

"The Cowgate site which was cleared after the much publicised fire five years ago has now received planning permission for a replacement development. The full planning committee supported the proposals earlier this week and this article gives more details including a brief quote from me. 'Angular and boxish. . . ' may not be a description which slips off the tongue - but it describes the outline of part of the proposal. I welcome many modern forms of architecture but what seems to be a growing tendency to celebrate square and rectangular shapes just does not look right - especially in an historic context. Some of the Waterfront buildings which have been built in recent years exibit a penchant for geometric designs which jar with the senses. In the case of the Cowgate, the proposals were passed as a whole but certain matters were reserved for further consideration..."

So all those boxy and angular historic buildings in the city by people like Adam etc... we just ignore? (Charlotte Square, anyone?) So does that mean we need wild organic shapes to fit into the historic context? Oh my god........This former policeman hasn't a clue!