26 November 2008

Struggling to find something nice in Kingston

Every other year the Kingston upon Thames Society presents Townscape Awards in recognition of new buildings, landscaping and artworks that in the Society's view have done the most to enhance Kingston.

The Awards were launched in 1989 and since then more than 50 developments have earned the right to display the Society's coveted certificate of townscape merit.

Society members (like myself) can nominate any scheme that completed in the previous two years and then the committee selects six of these to receive awards.

This year's selection shows just how bad things are in Kingston as they included the refurbishment of a sixties office block that looks like a refurbished sixties office block, a new hospital unit that looks just like any other new commercial building and the refurbishment of a Victorian clock tower.

That is not to say that any of these are poor developments but I feel that if this is the very best that Kingston has produced over the last two years then that is a pretty sorry state of affairs.

The one scheme that did strike me as being worthy of recognition was the rebuilt Chessington Community College, the large secondary school that serves the south of the borough.

I'll admit that it is interesting rather than stunning and only looks modern because nothing else in Kingston does, but given the scope and purpose of the townscape awards it most definitely deserved to win one.

I cannot comment yet on how effective it is as a building but I hope to have a better idea of that next week as I have a Kingston Schools Forum meeting there.

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