Blueprint for Blackfriars

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The Independent Culture
Blueprint for Blackfriars

Will Alsop is an irrepressible architect. Big and passionate, the antithesis of the cool, tidy boys who form the bulk of his profession in London, it is not surprising that he has won greater acceptance abroad than he has at home.

His "Grand Bleu" (the Hotel du Departement, or regional government headquarters, left) in Marseilles, which opened last year, is a huge and hugely expressive building coated from piloti to rooftop restaurant in azure blue paint. If ever a building gave away the character of its designer, then this £100m megastructure is it.

Elsewhere in Europe, Alsop is well known for his design of the Bladerunner- like passenger ferry terminal at Hamburg. At home, he won a competition two years ago for the design of the National Centre for Literature in Swansea; sadly, his ebullient scheme, a kind of Pompidou Centre for the Nineties, was abandoned for no other reason than that local backers were unable to come to terms with a design that would have put Swansea very much on the cultural map.

Londoners should know him for his design of Tottenham Hale station (featuring murals by his painter pal, Bruce McClean) on the Liverpool Street to Stansted Airport run.

Next Wednesday, Alsop talks of his plans for the new ICA buildings at Blackfriars Bridge; his plans suggest one of the most radical and energetic galleries Britain has yet seen. Catch him in his prime.

Will Alsop speaks at London Exchange, 77 Cowcross St, EC1, Farringdon, 6.30 for 7pm; tickets £2.50 on door