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CABE Slates Ram Brewery Plans

Plans by Minerva for the redevelopment of the Ram Brewery in the London Borough of Wandsworth has been attacked by the Commission of Architecture and Built Environment.

Designed by EPR these plans feature two towers of 32 and 42 storeys in height that have been met by a CABE which describes itself as "skeptical about the appropriateness of tall buildings for the Ram Brewery".

In believing planning permission should be refused the quango slates the towers for being proposed for what it sees as basically a suburban site rather than a dense inner city one, CABE believes it's difficult to see just how suitable the heights of the buildings are when they have no idea what could go up in the future and that this can only be remedied by a tall buildings strategy in Wandsworth.

Even if there was a tall building strategy there are other issues. CABE also attacks the architectural detailing of the buildings as not being of the highest quality and points out that with these towers tall enough to be seen from miles away they should work from a distance. Of particular note to CABE is the grouping of floors that make the buildings look confused from a distance rather than sleek and elegant by breaking the towers into sections. Ironically, earlier versions of the development didn't have this grouping of the floors into bunches.

It's not just the towers that CABE doesn’t like but also the lower-rise parts of the development and the way it interacts with the public realm. Right now the interior of the site is closed off to the public but the architect has planned to open it up, something that CABE does welcome at least in theory.

In practise however they feel that the poor connections between it and the River Wandle, something that consider to be a key part of the public amenity of any plans, are not being treated seriously due to a lack of detail on the design of bridges that will connect the scheme over the river to the neighbouring areas. There is perhaps a feeling that the developer is not serious about them by having not invested enough in their design phase.

Another challenge will be in keeping the central plaza of the site animated in all areas of the day, not just when the shops are open and it is bustling with customers. There is little by the way of residential facing onto this area meaning it could well be an empty place in the evenings rather than one still teeming with life.

The scheme is currently going through a public inquiry and it's unlikely that CABEs opinion will count for nothing. Regardless however of their views on the merits of design, CABE go to show once again that Wandsworth badly needs a coherent borough-wide tall buildings policy to make the judging of tall buildings possible.

Article Related buildings:

Ram Brewery Tower 1

Ram Brewery Tower 1
Ram Brewery Tower 2

Ram Brewery Tower 2
Ram Brewery Block G

Ram Brewery Block G
Ram Brewery, Wandsworth
Ram Brewery, Wandsworth