Arundel Square

In recent months, I haven’t been shy in supporting Hyde Housing Association’s plans for the Open Market by London Road. Correspondingly, I haven’t been quiet in fighting Hyde’s plans to demolish Park House by Hove Park.

I recently met with Tom Shaw from Hyde and Andy Parsons from PTE Architects to see several quite special schemes in London. Tom and Andy are both passionate about their work and it is clear that each of them is totally behind what they are doing. My motive in attending was to be as educated as possible when I come to form my own views on the next Park House proposal.

The Grand Tour included Artesian House in Bermondsey along with Packington Square and Diespeker Wharf in Islington. I was most taken though with a third Islington scheme – Arundel Square that was completed in 2010. That particular project saw the completion of a Victorian composition that should have been ready 150 years ago.

Yellow-brick and stucco terraces line three sides of Arundel Square and, until a few years back, the fourth side was a mess of an open railway cutting. The story goes that that the square’s original developer went bankrupt before completing the scheme. PTE completed the square in a highly appropriate – yet modern – manner. The railway is now invisible, just as it should have been previously.

Locally, in the very centre of Brighton, Chartwell Court occupies the east side of Russell Square that is the rightful home of a Regency terrace. Then there is the case of the Grand Hotel which is no longer symmetrical after it was extended to the west in 1986. Also, the Kingswest Building, home to the Odeon Cinema, is on the seafront yet it has few windows.

There are solutions to these problems but they share the common characteristic of each being rather fundamental in nature. By that, I mean that no amount of tweaking will change what is wrong – Russell Square needs its fourth side back; the Grand needs an east extension; and Kingswest needs windows. Lessons can be learnt from Arundel Square.

Brighton-based architect Andy Parsons was working with PTE when we last met up but has since taken on the Park House project under the banner of Yelo Architects. I look forward to seeing what he has in mind for the site. In the meantime, see www.yeloarchitects.com for a flavour of what’s to come.