, , , , ,

The proposed alternative view for the site designed by Johnstons Architects

From Building Design On Line

“Firm is challenging fellow local practice Rab Bennetts to major redevelopment project

Battle lines are being drawn in east London where a local practice has unveiled rival plans it hopes will see off a major redevelopment designed by Rab Bennetts.

Johnston Architecture, working with historian Dan Cruickshank, has drawn up a rival design it claims preserves more of the historic fabric of Spitalfields. It also involves the recreation of a monumental 18th century arch that was destroyed in the Blitz.

Developer Exemplar hired Bennetts Associates two years ago to come up with an office and retail scheme replacing two blocks near Hawksmoor’s Christ Church

Bennetts Associates’ plans include demolishing all but the facade of the 1929 Fruit&Wool Exchange

Bennetts’ scheme was recommended for approval at a recent Tower Hamlets planning meeting but councillors raised concerns over affordable housing and local employment. They are set to reconsider it by the end of next month. Campaigners have taken advantage of the delay to try and convince site owner City of London Corporation to think again.

Paul Johnston, founder of Johnston Architecture, said: “I have the greatest respect for Rab Bennetts but I think his hands are tied by the developer whose eye is on the bottom line. He has tried very hard to give it a decent face but the scale of the proposed building, covering two historic street blocks, makes it a monster.”

Rab Bennetts said the two schemes were surprisingly similar and both involved demolishing most of the Fruit & Wool Exchange.

The plans include demolishing all but the facade of the 1929 Fruit & Wool Exchange.”