There's still time for a Gherkin

This article about the Lewisham Gateway scheme generated quite a lot of reaction, most of it cautiously welcoming of the masterplan that's being developed.

One of the main reservations expressed, however, was that the architecture was bland and uninspiring and that this represented a missed opportunity to create something genuinely distinctive, such as Future Systems' Selfridges store, which has been so successful in the redevelopment of Birmingham's city centre.

Arguably, Lewisham lacks a distinctive public face - it boasts few icons or landmarks, particularly in comparison to neighbouring Greenwich and Southwark. The existing masterplan looked as though it would do little to change this.

However, following the article's publication, Brockley Central was contacted by the developers of the scheme to point out that:

"Our current application is in 'outline' and none of the buildings has been designed yet. All the images that we show are indicative and are just intended to give an impression. We will be commissioning a range of architects to design the individual buildings and, through their skills, our objective is for Lewisham Gateway to be architecturally fantastic!"

So there is still time for a design of genuine quality, that reflects the character of the local area and delivers the iconic status that many local people seem to want.

Buildings designed with the sole purpose of being icons usually fail, but the best designs, such as Foster's Gherkin or Future Systems' Selfridges, combine form and function to create something that enhances the urban landscape. Hopefully, the developers and the Council will remain true to this ambition and follow the precedent set in Lewisham by the Laban Centre. If we get another Lewisham Police Station, it will be a disaster.

It's also worth bearing in mind that the website for campaign against the scheme relies heavily on the existing images of the scheme, presumably in the belief that the images will shock some residents. Since these images are unrepresentative of the final scheme, we hope that the campaign will acknowledge that properly.