Author: Cyril Richert
In his letter to the developers, Wandsworth Council planning officer was asking for further and better consultation: Mr Hunter acknowledges the campaign for additional consultation including the provision of scale models at the station and requests Metro Shopping Fund to consider whether they would like to be involved in such an exercise.
I was talking recently with Jane Ellison about the consultation and was actually deploring the fact that instead of consulting ahead, presenting to the residents different solutions and requesting feedback, it seems that the preferred option is to push ahead only one solution, and wait until numerous effort is spent to oppose it (think about the Putney towers or the Battersea Power Station redevelopment).
However this approach can work. As Simon Jenkins was quoting the example of Paris in his recent article in the Evening Standard, we have over there a good example of major station/shopping mall redevelopment.
Les Halles, located at the heart of Paris, is a major transport hub (actually the largest subway hub in Europe) with a convergence of three lines of RER (a network of express underground lines) leading out of the city to the south, east and west, the completely automatic and newest metro line Meteor, and 3 lines of standard metro. You have currently 800,000 travellers a day, tens of thousands of neighbours, of visitors, of customers of the numerous businesses, in total 40 million people a year. Also, Les Halles is a large commercial centre in Paris. The budget (although certain to rise in the future) is at present £150-£200 millions.
I know we are focusing on Clapham Junction, and some will say it is not as important… or as romantic as Paris ( :-p ), but you certainly noted some similarities in term of transport importance and budget.
So, what happened? In 2005, the Mayor of Paris announced a vast new initiative: a complete change and reconstruction of Les Halles. The base line is a concept that will still be satisfactory in 25 years time.
In order to do so, a competition was organised, and exhibition available to visitors. The first architecture competition for a new Halles in 2004 failed to convince, and of the four finalists — the others were Jean Nouvel, Rem Koolhaas and Winy Maas — only Mr. Mangin’s conservative proposal for the gardens was retained. A new competition was organized, with Mr. Berger and Mr. Anziutti now chosen from among 10 finalists, including Massimiliano Fuksas, Toyo Ito and Paul Chemetov. So for the same budget as CJ redevelopment (even less apparently), the discussion and competition was much better!
The chosen design (press release here in French) will in effect reach 66 feet below the ground to the roof of the station, though the shopping areas will remain largely intact. The principal novelty will be a so-called patio, measuring roughly 215 feet by 150 feet, which will be open to ground level and protected from the elements by the canopy (the CJ proposal includes also a canopy).
Amazing, isn’t it? It does not have towers… French must be magicians, they don’t need to build tower blocks everywhere to restore and improve a major transport hub and town centre area!
Other designs (once again you will notice that nobody is proposing a tower block on top of the major transport hub!), not approved, were :