Friday, 30 September 2011

Premier Inn, North Street

I have long been promising myself a rant about this building and just the other fine morning remembered to take a photo. Speaking as a purely amateur architectural critic, from the first floor upwards the array of vertical elements is not displeasing. There is something rather ad hoc going on on the roof but at least it is mainly out of sight to the casual passer-by. The same can not be said about the seriously gross design of the canopy, a feature which no one using North Street can avoid seeing and, it follows, has had the potential to offend the eye of the vast majority of Brightonians  and  countless visitors. 

One  wonders why it had to be so deep and thus obscure part of the view of the first floor windows. What did it need to cover, apart from its own structural members and a few electricity cables? Or did  the architect simply have in mind making some strong horizontal statement as counterpoint to the facade above? If so he surely failed badly. For such a prominent feature to stand any chance of success it needed the highest quality materials and utmost attention to detailed design. Instead the whole idea is trashed by the shabby cladding and the shoddy arrangement chosen to finish off the roofing of the canopy. The latter looks more suited to a garden shed than a prominent building in a busy City street. 

To pile on the visual offence, many years ago the roof of a lorry came into contact with the edge of the canopy and took a chunk out. This draws the eye even more certainly to the canopy and away from the better features of the building. It appears no one cares enough to have it repaired.
The Premier Inn stands on the site of one of the many Prudential Insurance Offices designed by famous victorian architect Alfred Waterhouse in his characteristic red-brick victorian gothic style. It was demolished in 1967 when my back was turned.

3 comments:

  1. Hello!
    I'm the manager of the Premier Inn, and was surprised to see this post pop up in my google reader! Have been following for some while!

    You will be pleased to hear that the landlord and our managing agents are actually in talks to 'update' that front canopy. No one can agree quite yet on what will be done to it, but all agree that it needs updating!

    The reason nobody has repaired the canopy where it is broken is because of the material (heavy marble) that the fronting is made of, Obviously the remaining panels have been made safe, but the new works will incorporate this! I wish I had a date for you!

    As for the funny additions on the roof, it houses the 6&7th floors of bedrooms, and the boilers and extraction units etc!

    I have no idea who the Architect was, although to my knowledge Pru still have some ownership of the plot.

    I hope this has been of some reassurance that it won't be like that forever!

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  2. Thanks very much for the comment Lauren. It is a great relief to know some alterations are being considered. Thanks for following :)

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