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Battle lines have been drawn over the future of London’s Commonwealth Institute after plans for a radical redevelopment of the grade II* listed building were submitted by Rem Koolhaas and fellow Dutch architect West 8.

The scheme, for Chelsfield Partners and the Ilchester Estate and submitted to planners more than a year after Koolhaas’s firm OMA won a major competition for the job, proposes a new 9,300sq m home for the Design Museum dubbed the “parabola”.

But, as BD predicted in December, as well as adding three surrounding residential blocks of six to nine storeys high, the scheme retains little of the original 1962

This has outraged heritage groups including the Twentieth Century Society, which said this week it was “dismayed” by the proposals.

The project would remove existing floor level of the main building and create additions including a spiral staircase and a central void giving visitors “generous” views of the underside of the parabaloid roof.

It also envisages removal of the administration block, covered walkway, flagpoles and a garden commonly attributed to the legendary designer Syliva Crowe. The development team now claims it was actually designed by RMJM’s Maurice Lee and is therefore of less worth.

In a statement, Chelsfield insisted the project would revitalise the site and was “respectful” of the original scheme’s heritage. “The new buildings continue the modern spirit of boldness and ingenuity of the original but are carefully respectful of the Parabola and also the setting of Holland Park and the Kensington High Street,” the statement said.

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