Neo-classical architect seeks to usurp HKR for redevelopment of West Quay site

Architect Robert Adam has infuriated fellow members of his profession by drawing up an unsolicited proposal to replace existing plans to redevelop a historic area of Poole harbour.  

The original 2ha design for West Quay, submitted to Poole council by HKR Architects on behalf of developer Neptune Consultants, is a contemporary vision including a landmark 12-storey tower. It has been slammed as a “carbuncle” by local residents’ groups, and has attracted 800 complaints.

Adam’s practice, Adam Urbanism, has put forward rival plans, suggesting varying building heights and a mixture of styles, and does not include the divisive tower block.
Adam said: “When I was a student living in Poole in the sixties I watched much of the character of one of the most attractive southern seaports destroyed with bad planning and disastrous traffic engineering.

“I watched with dismay when I became an architect and urban designer as my home town continued to destroy much of its value and interest.

“When I saw the West Quay proposal I could stay silent no longer. Do we never learn from past mistakes? Do visitors come to Poole to see run-of-the-mill contemporary design? The decision-makers of Poole are put in a difficult position, faced with a yes-or-no choice. I decided to use the expertise of my firm to show the people of Poole that there is choice.” 

David King-Smith, director and head of design at HKR Architects, described Adam’s intervention as “ludicrous”.

“It is completely devoid of any of the consultation that we’ve been undergoing on this project for the last two-and-a-half years,” he said. “The design has evolved over that period with a number of consultees, not least of which is the local authority themselves.

“For someone to come forward and in a vacuum present a set of drawings as a viable alternative for the site is ludicrous.”