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Wed October 28 2020

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Southwark approves “ungainly” Quill

2 Dec 10 A 109m-high tower block in the shadow of the 310m-high Shard at London Bridge has been approved by the London Borough of Southwark.

Dubbed the Quill, the 31-storey block on Weston Street will house close to 500 students of King’s College London. It will require the demolition of a 1960s’ building, Capital House, which is currently used by King’s for ancillary education support facilities.  
The building is designed by Spparc Architecture who say they were “inspired by the literary heritage of Southwark, reinforced by the educational use of the building”.

The architects say their design “breaks the pre-conceived idea of a highly repetitive internal function by creating a dynamic form of interest that delights and inspires. The expression of freedom reaffirms the spirit of the scheme – the quill concept not only relates to the visual aspects of the feathered writing implement but also the creative liberty of literature and education.”

Others aren’t so keen on it.

English Heritage objected that the Quill will damage views from the Tower of London.

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The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) issued a damning judgement in October  using words such as “ungainly”, “inefficient”, “lack of conviction” and “illogical”.

CABE said: “While we support the client’s aspiration to deliver high quality student housing, we think the 'quill' narrative is working against the integrity and sustainability of the architecture, the quality of the student accommodation and the image of the university. In particular, the form and detailing are over complex and the internal planning is convoluted. The scheme does not meet the standards set out in CABE/English Heritage's Guidance on tall buildings and we are unable to support the planning application.”

CABE concluded: “Finally, the detailing of the envelope to realise the ‘quill’ concept is over complicated and we doubt that the building is credible to build to the level of quality required for a tall building, either technically or financially.

Southwark's planning committee disagreed, by five votes to two, after its officers described the design as “dynamic” and “dramatic”. They also liked that it would have some solar panels.

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