Watchdog issues warning's about 'dumbing down' of lower residential blocks in international architect's King Alfred scheme.

CABE has warned architect Frank Gehry to ensure his King Alfred scheme on the Brighton and Hove seafront is not “dumbed down”.

The architectural watchdog supported the scheme, which calls for two residential towers, a number of lower residential blocks, and a sports facility.

It said: “CABE has welcomed the scheme’s architectural approach but has called for more information about its detailed appearance. It is also asking for safeguards to ensure the continuing involvement of Gehry Partners in the scheme and prevent later ‘dumbing down’ of the design.”

Cabe added: “We support the idea that the architecture should be distinctive and quirky, and that it could be something entirely new to Brighton and Hove - all of which was true of the Royal Pavilion when it was built.

“In addition, this project, unlike the Pavilion, occupies that strip between the main building line and the sea where in any seaside town there is the sense that, although it is a highly visible location, it is a place for fun and letting one's hair down. However, to fully test this we would expect to see many more images of the proposed views from the immediate and wider area, including the waterfront.”

CABE stressed that the housing needs to offer a well-planned, well-designed and well-managed place to live for all, and raised the following concerns about the lower residential blocks.

It warned: “We are concerned that entrances appear mean and lack presence. The corridors could be wider or have recesses to the apartment entrances to allow people to pass one another easily… We are concerned that most of the apartments will not have enough private space such as a balcony and those that do have balconies are not generous enough to fit a table and four chairs, for example.’

Commenting on the proposed sports facility, CABE said:

“We welcome the considerable efforts by the architects to meet all the requirements of the client and the city council but we think that further work is needed to bring more of the invention of the exterior to the internal spaces.”

CABE also drew attention to the need to make sure the public space worked in the way intended:

It said: “It will be important to thoroughly test the public realm as both routes through the scheme and public spaces within it. We are not yet convinced that the spaces will be as animated as imagined.”