Why are we helping to knock down the Brighton Astoria?

Quite a lot of people have asked me here in Brighton why we are trying to save Saltdean Lido while happily gaining planning approval to knock down the listed Astoria Cinema. 

Well it’s simple. One is a good building and one is not. 

The Lido was built as the heart of a new community – it has a library, a (once) grand ballroom, cafe, rooms to hire.  If it was loved and run better and restored as well as the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, then it would be a regional and national attraction.  Fish and chips and a glass of wine on the sun terrace would be a rare treat and we want to help make that happen.  

The Astoria Cinema was knocked up in a few months as a big entertainment shed. It served its purpose and was, like so many cinemas, wrecked by conversion to a bingo hall decades ago.  There’s almost nothing left worth keeping and what is left is mainly made from asbestos! (see the attached picture of a recent visit by local councillors).  Not all old buildings are good. Some things improve with age (like a certain chairman) and other should be thrown away and replaced with something better. 

Our proposals for the Astoria give the city it’s greenest office building, providing some of the best workspace, which is why the planning committee approved it.  Deputy Leader of the Council Amy Kenned called it ‘A 21st Century building for a 21st century city”. We owe it to our towns and cities to design the best buildings we can, to create the listed buildings of the future. Don’t let sentiment hold us back!

Paul Zara, September 2011

Paul Zara is the Director of Conran & Partners in Brighton. Read more by Paul:

Where have all the shops gone?

The future of architecture

Click here to read more about saving Saltdean Lido 

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One response to “Why are we helping to knock down the Brighton Astoria?

  1. Pingback: Conran interior design’s extra-curricular activities… | What's going on at CONRAN?: The CONRAN blog

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