Architects flock to barracks scheme

Chelsea Barracks
Chelsea Barracks

Over 40 firms vie to replace Rogers

Calls for architects to boycott the Chelsea Barracks scheme have fallen on deaf ears with more than 40 firms vying to replace the jilted Richard Rogers design.

In the last month Labour MP Ken Purchase and former RIBA president Jack Pringle called on architects to refuse to work on the site for developer Qatari Diar following allegations that Prince Charles had unfairly used his influence to get the Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners scheme pulled, but the sheer level of interest in the scheme has now forced the developer to delay the announcement of a longlist of firms — originally set for last week,  until later in the month.

A spokesman said: “It is taking longer than we thought. We are heading towards 50 firms who have showed interest. It is a mixture of UK and international firms and we have to get the longlist right and make sure the people on it are serious about it.”

Also, several US firms are understood to be eyeing the scheme, some of which have ties to the Congress for New Urbanism, formerly chaired by Prince’s Foundation chief executive Hank Dittmar, these include Andres Duany and New York-based Fairfax & Sammons, who join others in the frame such as Alan Baxter & Associates, John Thompson & Partners, SOM, Allies & Morrison, Edaw and Demetri Porphyrios.

The Prince’s Foundation is one the bodies Qatari Diar is liaising with on the proposed new designs which it wants finalised by the end of the year, but despite the level of interest, Pringle said the winning firm would still earn the scorn of rivals.

“It will be very awkward for whoever wins,” he said. “They will lose the respect of a lot of their peers. Architects should look at their consciences. Richard Rogers has been bounced in the most appalling way. Either people don’t see the principle at stake here or don’t care.”

Labour councillors at the planning authority, Westminster, will put down a motion next week asking for the council to confirm that the revised development will still have 50% affordable housing.

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