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From Brunel to Bono, planning permissions give culture a lead

Will Jennings

A performing arts centre, a museum visitor pavilion and a cultural refurb backed by Bono join a thermal upgrade to a house in Kent in this year's final collection of planning consents

There’s a cultural angle to the last planning roundup of 2021. Alongside a Dublin rockstar-adjacent cultural refurb, a museum entrance pavilion and a sculptural performing arts centre, a private dwelling in Kent will undergo thermal improvements with a new wraparound skin.

We want to celebrate all of Britain’s architecture, big and small, and if you have a scheme set to achieve planning in 2022, please email so we can maintain our diverse and interesting mix in this column over the coming year.

  • Chapel Road Brighton PAC
    Chapel Road Brighton PAC Credit: Forbes Massie
  • Dance Studio Brighton PAC
    Dance Studio Brighton PAC Credit: Forbes Massie
  • Home Ground Brighton PAC
    Home Ground Brighton PAC Credit: Forbes Massie
  • Theatre Brighton PAC
    Theatre Brighton PAC Credit: Forbes Massie
  • Canyon Brighton PAC
    Canyon Brighton PAC Credit: Forbes Massie
  • Main Stairs Brighton PAC
    Main Stairs Brighton PAC Credit: Forbes Massie


Total site area: 0.45ha
Client: Brighton College 
Architect: KRFT and Nicholas Hare Architects
Landscape architect: Bradley-Hole Schoenaich Landscape Architects 
Planning authority: Brighton and Hove City Council
Planning ref: BH2021/01845

A little bit of the Netherlands will be landing in Britain following planning permission for a new performance arts space for Brighton College. krft is a young Amsterdam practice that fought off competition from established names Mecanoo, Morphosis, HaworthTompkins and sauerbruchhutton to be selected by the college to progress designs for a 400-seat theatre space. It will join what is becoming an architectural museum, addressing the grade II Gothic revival block of the college’s main building, designed by Gilbert Scott over various phases between 1853 and 1866, Eric Parry’s music building, and 2020’s Sports & Science building designed by fellow Dutch practice OMA.

That science building replaced an agglomeration of 1958 ad hoc buildings which awkwardly connected to and occluded the historic fabric. With evidence of structural weakening, these will now be demolished to make space for krft’s sculptural monolith of clay masonry and knapped flint. The firm will work with Nicholas Hare Architects as design partner for the technical stages.

With no front or back, the new block will sit detached from its surroundings. Surrounding will be four different external spaces – the lawn, street, alley, and courtyard – which seek to make a more holistic connection between the various buildings than currently exists. Across a split-level site, the block accommodates studios for dance and drama, a café, foyer and reading space to the lower floor. Above, the ‘wooden box’ theatre with an oculus of natural light which will aid concentration when the space is also used for lectures and assemblies.

Nicholas Hare Architects has now taken over the project lead post Stage 4, or as krft puts it ‘excellently translating our design into the reality of British construction’.


  • Project Orange
    Project Orange Credit: Dalkey
  • Project Orange
    Project Orange Credit: Dalkey
  • Project Orange
    Project Orange Credit: Dalkey
  • Project Orange
    Project Orange Credit: Dalkey
  • Project Orange
    Project Orange Credit: Dalkey
  • Project Orange
    Project Orange Credit: Dalkey


Total site area: Approximately 2320m2
Client: Clós Nua Ltd
Architect: Project Orange
Landscape consultant: Murphy + Sheanon
Planning authority: Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council
Planning ref: 84748

Historic tram sheds, service buildings, and cottage in Dalkey – a suburb to the South of Dublin where the Bay meets the Irish Sea – is soon to be reborn as a mixed-use scheme of food, drink, offices, retail, and culture set around a new cobbled public square.

The developer behind the project is one-third owned by U2 frontman Bono, and the celebrity attachment to the scheme had raised concerns from local residents that a new Temple Bar was to be dropped into their village-atmosphere suburb. But Project Orange has sought to assuage those fears with a number of community-focused additions to the scheme, including new kiosks running along the entrance street which will contain a bike-repair shop and other micro-businesses alongside a covered bench and community noticeboard. Once passed the kiosks, visitors will find themselves in a new piazza, with cobbles and tracks underfeet, and a café within what was formerly the cottage.

The tramsheds are to be retrofitted with the pitched roofline lifted to allow upper-level office spaces, while a new building is to be located where the fourth, non-original, tramshed currently sits. This building will extend down one side of the piazza, enclosing the space and offering ranges of balconies connected by a dogleg Corten steel stair. This new addition will enclose retail as well as a new community cultural space including a raked seating area for film screenings, lectures – and perhaps one day a performance by that member of the development team himself?


  • Coloured elevation cropped
    Coloured elevation cropped Credit: Tate & Co
  • Axonometric sketch
    Axonometric sketch Credit: Tate & Co


Total gross internal area: 65m2
Client: The Brunel Museum 
Architect: Tate & Co
Heritage architect: Purcell
Landscape architect: Adams Habermehm
Planning authority: Southwark Council
Planning ref: 21/AP/0628

It may seem daunting to be designing in the shadow the man who in 2002 was voted the second greatest Briton of all time, but Tate & Co seems undaunted by its recently approved scheme for a new entrance pavilion at the Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe, London.

It is not Tate & Co’s first project with the museum, having already carried out Phase 1 of a masterplan by inserting a twisting staircase and viewing platform into the sinking shaft of the adjoining Rotherhithe Tunnel to create an accessible space for performances and events and making its historic atmosphere  palpable. Here for Phase 2 and above ground, the architect has designed a lightweight structure clad in patinated metal with a ceramic tile facade to its entrance, clearly setting it apart from the historic brickwork of the engine house, but drawing from the hues and colours of the surrounding context.

The folded pitched-roof structure will contain all basic functions for welcoming visitors and administration. A ticket desk forms the front of house, while behind it offices, WCs, a staff kitchen and bin store are squeezed into the five-sided space. This frees up space within the historic Engine House, which will be refurbished with Purcell and used for display and interpretation.

Perhaps unusual for most museum additions, there will be no café. Instead, with other local pubs and facilities available, a grab-and-go drinks point will test demand, with the potential of a café to be included in Phase 3 of the masterplan. The museum is now applying to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for partial funding, and if successful it is hoped that the new visitor pavilion may be open by the end of 2023.




Client: Private client
Architect: Gruff Architects 
Planning authority: Sevenoaks District Council
Planning ref: 21/03304/HOUSE

A mid-60s detached house is to be overhauled by Gruff Architects. Substantial alterations, including an annex and garage extension, during the first decade of its life followed by poor maintenance in the intervening years have left the oversailing flat roofs with severe ponding and low levels of insulation, resulting in the need for modernising works.

Working with Enhabit, Gruff will improve the thermal efficiency of the building to EnerPHit standard. As well as new roof insulation, 200mm of mid-grey rendered insulation will be applied to all external walls, with new double and triple glazing to all windows and doors. It is also intended to add an air tightness layer to the envelope, with a new mechanical ventilation heat recovery system.

An extended overhang of the south-facing flat roofs will help reduce overheating from the long stretches of glazing below, with roof planes to be finished with a painted metal fascia, tying it to a new steel exoskeleton supporting the roof extensions and offering a framework on which future vines could grow. New solar panels will be laid across the roof.

The architect will also be reworking the internal plan, which has been disjointed since the 1970s works. They will bring a new primary entrance to the middle, with small infill extensions which allow for a pool-side gym and replacement of an existing poor quality plastic conservatory.




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