Sunday, 30 June 2013

Cathedral seeks to cut Deptford Project costs with cheaper architect

More bad news for the standard of Deptford's built environment after trade magazine Building Design claimed (site requires registration) that the high-profile practice Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners would not be taking the proposed Deptford Project through to completion.

The magazine reports:

BD understands it is the firm’s fee demands that have resulted in it being sidelined on a housing scheme in south-east London which is being developed by Cathedral and social housing specialist United House. 

RSHP won planning for its role in The Deptford Project in March last year, but it is understood the developer is now looking at replacing it with a cheaper firm. 

Cathedral hopes to start work on its Deptford site later this year and said: “As with many projects of this type we will be entering a design and build contract with our contractor, and under that arrangement we will, together, decide which architecture practice provides delivery services throughout that process. We are currently working through that discussion.”

The scheme got planning permission last year but very little has happened on site as yet except for the temporary tenants of the arches being turfed out and some hoardings put up; and as Crosswhatfields blog reported recently, the future of Deptford's beloved train carriage cafe is now in doubt as no-one is willing to offer it a new home.

While I'm not unduly worried about the loss of the 'starchitect' on this project, I do hope that whichever practice replaces RSHP will have sufficient weight and authority to ensure that the quality of structure proposed in the original application will be carried through to completion.

I am not a huge fan of this particular design, but if executed properly it could become a strong visual landmark for Deptford. Unfortunately too often in design build contracts, cost is the sole motivator and quality of design and construction becomes an afterthought, or even worse, is entirely forgotten.

The evaluation process that contractors now refer to as 'value engineering' generally uses the word 'value' with all the finesse and sophistication of Tescos.


Anonymous said...

Surely, with Planning permission on the building being given, it is now upto the councils Planning Department to ensure that the specification is carried out as it is detailed in the permission that was granted. If this is not done then the contractors will not have carried out the work properly.
If the council officers cannot make sure the developers carry out the work as they have expressed an intention what use are the planners and what hope is there for the larger schemes like Convoys Wharf? Will it end up like Poundland, cheap and cheerful today, but only suitable for the rubbish heap after a few years of use. High quality must be delivered as promised, mustn't it?
Welcome to Deptford - Overcrowded Slum of the Future!?

Bill Ellson said...

The Building Design story is not behind a paywall, but merely requires registration.

Deptford Dame said...

@bill actually it doesn't even require that if you cut and paste the url directly ;-) anyhow thanks for pointing that out, I've amended the post.

Anonymous said...

I really hope the council see the importance of design and build quality, and also the importance of social integration.

A mix of social and private housing is desirable in deptford but people will only buy here if they see good quality (resonably spacious) and well thought out homes.

Anonymous said...

looks like a slice of Elephant and Castle Heygate Estate currnetly under D E M O L I T I O N ! !

Alyssa said...

This is cool!