Many members of the public seem resigned to the fact that new functional buildings must be ugly and de-sensitising. But this is a fallacy. To show this, and working for a local resident, in 2016 Create Streets worked up an alternative approach to a proposed new Premier Inn at 153 Broadway in Wimbledon, South West London.
Premier Inn’s proposal was for a seven-storey building with 149 hotel rooms. As measured by all evidence of human responses to buildings and associations between design with value and wellbeing, it was a very poor design with a sheer glass ‘could be anywhere’ façade. It was parasitic to the area not symbiotic. Something better would have been achievable. It is perfectly possible to build with character and distinction at a height of six to seven storeys and we found many examples in and beyond Wimbledon which might provide templates to adapt.
One practical problem in designing hotels is that they need lots of windows at very regular intervals. However, a London warehouse brick-based style can achieve this while being typically popular and attractive to the wider public. This was the option we chose. We don’t pretend that it is ‘perfect’ but it did make the point that other options were possible. The proposal was designed to: achieve at least 149 rooms; fit in more courteously with the surrounding streets by presenting a more attractive and appropriate façade; work with Premier Inn’s proposed internal arrangements and supply chain; provide a design that we hope would be more popular with local residents (though we did not test that on this occasion); not present too high a build cost; permit shops or restaurants on the ground floor; and encourage greenery on the ground floor.
Sadly, it will never be. Premier Inn achieved their planning permission and Broadway now has one more disfiguring glass box discordantly singing of absolutely nowhere at all.
Team: Create Streets, Francis Terry and Associates, John Spence and Chris Rainsford.