Chipperfield's plans for Tracey Emin residence and studio rejected

| 27 comments

David Chipperfield Architects' proposal for a new east London home and studio for British artist Tracey Emin has been refused planning permission.

Chipperfield's scheme, which proposed the demolition of a 1920s block at 66-68 Bell Lane to make way for a new five-storey building, was turned down by the development committee at the London Borough of Tower Hamlets last week.

David Chipperfield plans for Tracey Emin residence rejected

The new brick development would have connected to Emin's existing studio and residence, which occupies an adjacent Victorian building at 1-5 Tenter Ground, right by Old Spitalfields Market.

"Officers have concluded that on balance the scheme would have a negative impact on the Artillery Passage Conservation Area, with its demolition of a locally listed building of both historic significance and aesthetic and townscape merit," said a statement from the committee.

David Chipperfield plans for Tracey Emin residence rejected

Emin is one of a group of contemporary artists known as the YBAs, which emerged in the late 1980s. Among her most famous artworks are My Bed and Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995.



A number of preservation groups objected to Chipperfield and Emin's plans, citing the negative impact of a contemporary building on the Artillery Passage Conservation Area.

The East End Preservation Society referred to the scheme "very damaging", while Save Britain's Heritage claimed the demolition of the existing 1920s building would cause "substantial harm" to the conservation area.

The scheme was initially submitted for planning consideration in summer 2015, but after a six-month period of indecision Emin launched an appeal through chartered surveyor Montagu Evans in January 2016. The appeal was received days prior to the official rejection at last Wednesday's meeting and is still ongoing.

David Chipperfield plans for Tracey Emin residence rejected
The building is designed to adjoin Emin's existing studio and residence, which occupies an adjacent Victorian building at 1-5 Tenter Ground

This isn't the first project David Chipperfield Architects has had turned down for on the basis of preservation. In 2013, the British firm was appointed to design a £18.9m extension for the Geffrye Museum in east London.

The addition to the interiors museum proposed the proposed the demolition of the 1830s Marquis of Lansdowne pub, which, like 66-68 Bell Lane, sits in a conservation area in east London. A campaign was mounted by conservationists to retain the then-derelict building and the plans for the museum extension were thrown out by planners at Hackney council.

David Chipperfield Architects is currently working on a museum beside the Taj Mahal, and was recently unveiled as one of the winners of a competition to overhaul sites across Paris.

  • Robin

    With shades of Pomo, not exactly Chipperfield’s most contemporary work!

  • Prole

    Chipperfield has become a bit of a specialist in having planning applications rejected in east London. With brick detailing that bad it is little surprise.

    • Jot

      It is quite surprising though otherwise this wouldn’t be news. What do you dislike about the brick detailing?

  • Nate

    Bricks are rather contemporary…

  • spadestick

    Chipperfield contemporary? My word! Just look at the tall building behind!

  • Meme

    With Pomo being too contemporary you should turn the clock back a little until Modernism. Maybe that works.

  • Architects Anonymous

    David Copperfield needs to go back to magic, because his architecture sucks.

  • Felix Amiss

    This was just the planners kind way of preventing local residents from dying of mediocrity.

  • KuriousOranj

    On balance I’d say that this is the correct decision. The existing buildings do have a pleasant character, and while this is not a bad building it’s is not enough of an improvement.

    The bigger problem is that such correct decision can only be on a small developments by private individuals, meanwhile the disaster that is the Bishopsgate Goods Yard will get the nod from a Mayor whose office has approved every major scheme it has called in.

    • Kay

      No one has done as much damage to London as Boris.

      • KuriousOranj

        Agreed! Norton Folgate, Bishopsgate Goods Yard and Mount Pleasant… it’s quite roll of shame.

  • BL Esq

    Chipperfield seems more and more to come into conflict with cultural heritage.

  • Kay

    Further proof that Tower Hamlets council are still living in 1855.

    Also, they find it okay to allow British Land to destroy Norton Folgate and get rid of cute things like Brick Lane’s cobblestone roads but find small independent projects to be too contemporary.

    This just translates to “not enough dalla bills in my pockets yo”.

    • Max

      Tower Hamlets rejected the British Land proposals. It’s Boris Johnson (again) who said it can go ahead.

      • Kay

        Fine, fair is fair. I still think it is the most corrupt borough in the city. Everything they do always seems seedy.

  • Chris MacDonald

    I don’t understand how you can create something as wonderful as the Hepworth Wakefield, and then produce this?

    The form, and in particular the positioning of the windows strikes me as being very disjointed and ultimately ugly. Especially that circular window. Postmodern?

    The bricks are nice at least.

  • peter

    I don’t think it was refused for being contemporary! It’s a good design that fits with the old industrial character of the area.

    The problem was that in order to build it you’d have to demolish a heritage asset in a conservation area. So the title of this article should probably be changed!

    • Phil

      Exactly, this article really should include a picture of the building proposed to be demolished. But then telling the full story is never Dezeen’s agenda.

  • davvid

    *Clutches pearls*

    Oh dear, not a circular window!

  • Derek_V

    It’s the right decision. The existing building is much better. And it probably wasn’t even designed by an architect with a massive ego for an artist with a massive ego.

    • davvid

      You do realise that successful architects aren’t the only ones with egos in this world, don’t you? It is just that we know the names of the successful ones.

      • Derek_V

        Chill. I was making a sarcastic comment.

  • Sef Smarlo

    Where, journalism 101, is the image of what is in the space now? You’ve used the architect’s renderings without showing us important context.

    • tim-allen

      I agree that it’s a good idea to see the new design in context, but nowadays that’s really easy to do. Use a service like Google Maps and Streetview to look around the address stated in the article.

      If you do your homework, you’ll see that the design is a very modest, Minimalist version of the ordinary, hodge-podge of buildings that are already there. Chipperfield’s design fits right in; it’s just a little taller, has lighter bricks, a fewer, randomly placed windows.

      Might the reason the project was rejected have more to do with Tracey Emin’s shocking and controversial artwork?

      • Sef Smarlo

        I agree that one and all can make time to click open Google Maps or Streetview to see the current streetscape, but I stand by my point. Better journalism would be for Dezeen to add the context at the outset. I can then move on to the next item.

  • Good call.

  • marmite

    Much as I love Chipperfield’s work, they were right to turn it down. Tracy Emin should not be allowed to mess around with conservation areas. Who the hell does she think she is? But no doubt her pal Boris will, as usual, push democracy aside and give her the go ahead.