Old Market Penthouse Plans

However much we wish it wasn’t so, it’s extremely difficult to keep historic buildings in their original forms and expect them to remain viable.

Finding new ways to use buildings from the past needn’t be a chore. Some of our best buildings locally are now used even more effectively than they were originally. The Hanbury Club began as the tomb of the Sassoon family; the Dome began as the Prince Regent’s stables; King’s House, the Council’s headquarters, began as seven townhouses; and the Komedia began as a supermarket. Each in its original form is close to unimaginable.

The Old Market, tucked away in the heart of Brunswick Town, has had a variety of uses over the years. As its name suggests, it began as a market and it opened for business in 1828. The venture was a complete failure though and by the 1850s the building had become a riding school. Alfred Dupont took over in the 1870s and transformed the structure entirely. Floors were added and extensions built. The success of Dupont’s Riding Academy continued well into the 20th century, long after the great man died. During the 1950s, bacon and ham were smoked there; during the 1960s, it was used as a warehouse; and, since the 1970s, it has been used as an arts centre in various forms. Thankfully, some degree of protection was added when it was awarded Grade II Listed status in 1971.

When I write about modern buildings, I struggle to think of examples of excellence in Brighton & Hove. Only the Jubilee Library by Lomax Cassidy Edwards gets a regular mention. I was surprised when Nick Lomax told me about his firm’s plans to build two glass penthouses on the roof of the Old Market but, at least, relieved that he had been selected as architect.

Although the Old Market breaks even on a day-to-day basis, historic debts (said to be in the region of £900,000) have become too burdensome. If the radical development doesn’t go ahead, the venue may well close and who knows what might become of the building then? On the other hand, the modern extension would irreversibly alter the historic building for good.

I have such respect for those behind the important work that goes on at the Old Market that I am keen to look upon these plans as positively as possible. It is going to be tough though.