Thursday, 29 October 2015

Movement grows to address London’s lack of a notable concert hall

Sir Simon Rattle is coming to London as the director of the London Symphony Orchestra from 2017, but his price is reputed to be a new concert hall.

The chancellor, George Osborne, is a classical music lover and is said to support the plan. It might also sound reasonable - for a city that purports to be a world leader in music, has five orchestras but does not have a hall with a truly fine acoustic for orchestral music.

Last year the City of London announced a willingness to build and raise much of the money for a concert hall which would herald the City as a place of beauty and inspiration as well as a financial centre. It would be sited near the Barbican, creating another artistic axis for London.

The preferred site appears to be a rather grim traffic roundabout in central London that is currently home to the Museum of London. A £1m feasibility study has been done and, according to the City Of London local authority, concluded that it is feasible for it to be located on the site.

The plans for a new venue are already dividing music experts and performers and threatening the most discordant of overtures to Rattle’s reign at the LSO.

“The cost of building in the middle of the Square Mile is prohibitive - half a billion pounds, at current estimates. A ridiculous amount compared to the general global cost of a concert hall,” the veteran critic and music writer Norman Lebrecht fumed in his online blog.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Museum of London confirms Smithfield move plans

Proposal could see museum move to Smithfield site by 2021


The Museum of London has confirmed plans to relocate to Smithfield market from it’s current site in the Barbican by 2021.

Museum director Sharon Ament said the aim was to create a museum that could handle more visitor numbers, which have doubled over the past few years.

Ament said: “If we are to continue to excite and engage visitors and become more sustainable by standing more firmly on our own two feet, we need to ensure our building and galleries are up to the challenge and match the best that London has to offer.”

The move could pave the way for the Museum of London’s current site on London Wall to be used as the site for a new world-class concert hall in London. The City of London Corporation has earmarked the area around the Barbican, incorporating London Wall, for an expanded cultural quarter.

Building reported last month that a state-of-the-art music concert hall could be built in the road tunnel under the Barbican complex and plans for a new concert hall have been backed by George Osborne.

The Museum of London is working with Smithfield architect John McAslan on its move plans. McAslan’s original proposals for Smithfield were thrown out by communities secretary Eric Pickles last July. At the time developer Henderson, which has a 999-year lease on the site, said it had no plans to sell up, potentially condemning the crumbling Victorian buildings to an uncertain fate.

The proposals look revive the western end of the famous market, which has fallen into disrepair in the past decade. Speaking of the move Ament added: “Of course there are many issues to be resolved before opening a new museum not least of which is a proper negotiation on the price for the site as well as a number of other conditions being met.

“In close collaboration with the City of London Corporation and Greater London Authority, we will contribute to our shared goal of making the local area a world-class cultural hub. With this new ambition we enter the most exciting time so far in the Museum of London’s history.”

"Creaking" Museum of London could create "unrivalled experience" at Smithfield Market by 2021

Hundreds of thousands of artefacts, kept in storage by space limitations, will go on public show if a plan to relocate the Museum of London to Smithfield Market, which planners expect to more than double the current number of visitors to the venue, goes ahead.

Sharon Ament, the director of the museum, said organisers had the backing of the Mayor of London and the Corporation of the City for proposals which could see it move to Smithfield, where a £160 million office and retail development was vetoed last year, by 2021.

“We need a new museum,” said Ament, who expects visitor numbers to soar to more than two million people if the idea goes ahead.

“We are creaking at the seams, we’ve been so successful.

Could this be the future roof of the Museum of London?

“We do not currently have the space to present our collections properly or demonstrate the research behind them.

“Our visitor numbers have doubled in recent years and continue to grow; our schools programme is at capacity.

“We need to build a museum that has more gallery space so we can put our three million objects on display. We can’t think of a better place than Smithfield General Market.”

Launching a new public consultation website including the thoughts of chef Ainsley Harriott and England footballer Rachel Yankey, Ament said the museum hoped to “stand more firmly on our own two feet”, ensure its venue and galleries are “up to the challenge” and create an “unrivalled experience”. The mooted move is part of regeneration plans for the Smithfield area.

The General Market has been facing demolition since 2005

“Of course there are many issues to be resolved before opening a new museum, not least of which is a proper negotiation on the price for the site, as well as a number of other conditions being met,” she cautioned.

“With this new ambition we enter the most exciting time so far in the Museum of London’s history.”

Boris Johnson was absent from the announcement. But the Mayor said the switch would allow the “cultural gem” to “unleash its full potential”.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Brothers’ private club plan for former court house building in Clerkenwell

The Old Sessions House view of the Dome
Two Swedish brothers who bought an old Clerkenwell court house for an eye-watering £13.5million plan to turn it into a “social gathering point” that includes a private members’ club and a rooftop swimming pool.

Details of the Planning Application can be found here       

The Old Sessions House in Clerkenwell Green, where convicts were once sentenced to death, will become home to a wine bar, restaurant and either offices or a private members’ club, if Islington Council’s planning committee approves the proposals on Tuesday.

The Old Sessions House in Clerkenwell Green was sold for £13.5m

Last year the building, most recently in use as a masonic lodge, was bought by Swedish property developers and interior designers Ted and Oliver Grebelius of Satila Studios.

On their website the brothers state that they aim to “restore the [building’s] former glory by reinstating key original design features but also making it work as a modern building”.

The duo plan to restore a number of historic features including the main court room, the judges’ dining room and an 18th-century glazed screen between the court and the impressive domed hall. The remnants of prisoner cells on the ground floor, the prisoners staircase and cell windows have been uncovered and will remain exposed.

They also propose to construct a roof extension to create two roof terraces, including a rooftop pool. On the ground floor, the brothers want to create a food court with small shops.

The historian and retired planner Alec Forshaw has advised the brothers in making the design historically sensitive, and the brothers have also have had guidance from the conservation officer at Islington Council and English Heritage.

David Gibson, who chairs the Islington Society, welcomed the proposals. He said: “I think it has been carefully and sensitively designed, and the plans won’t do any damage to the building. They also plan to restore some of the building’s original features, which is welcome.”

The Grade-II listed building was built in 1779 and was the biggest and busiest courthouse in England for over 100 years. It was in use by magistrates until 1921.

The council has received eight objections to the plans from surrounding residents, with some raising concerns over potential disturbance to neighbours, but officers have recommended them for approval.

The committee meeting at Islington Town Hall will start at 7.30pm