The buildings you love – and hate


Brighton and Hove is architecturally eclectic so perhaps it’s appropriate that the people who live here have equally diverse tastes, as we discovered when we asked you to nominate the best and worst buildings in Brighton and Hove via our website and Facebook page.

The Royal Pavilion is, of course, a given on your list of favourites and the West Pier, even as a ruin, also has a special place in your affections.

St Bartholomew’s church scored well and was especially popular with younger correspondents – “What an awesome sight it is,” wrote one. “It puts you in your place and give you a lift at the same time.”

The Theatre Royal was another hit. “How many cities are lucky enough to have such a gem of a small theatre?” asked one writer. “It may have its limitations but its interior, in particular, is charming and reminds us that television wasn’t always the dominant form of entertainment.”

The 1930s drew mixed reviews, with nominations for and against Marine Gate on the cliffs above the marina, which was described both as “a blockhouse” and “elegant, simple and far more pleasing than the later clutter that stretches out towards Newhaven.”

The grade 2* Embassy Court by architect Wells Coates, which was completed in 1935 and recently restored, also drew both praise and criticism. “Wonderfully evocative, liner-like curves that complement the Regency terraces,” said one writer, while another complained, “It’s OK but it’s in the wrong place – it dwarfs the older buildings around it.”



Post-war architecture generally attracted more brickbats than fans, with the Kingswest Centre and Bedford Towers joined by “just about any of the office buildings around the train station – International House, for example” and “that hideous run of office buildings opposite Preston Park along the London Road”.

There were exceptions, with two buildings by John Wells-Thorpe taking a bow. “Hove Town Hall was a far more exciting building than it now appears because of clumsy modifications,” we heard, while his 1980s Porsche showroom close to Portslade Station was described as “looking like a Porsche feels – glamorous and practical”.

But perhaps the most interesting thoughts came from members who love the great set-piece terraces, squares and crescents for which the city is famous and the smaller, more everyday back streets that give it so much of its character.

One especially thoughtful writer spoke of her experiences working in the Lanes, expressing concerns that modernisation could destroy the area’s character.

“The council have done an amazing job with the Pavilion but the Lanes matter too. This was where the poor lived and worked in fishermen’s hovels and helped to make Brighton prosper,” she wrote. “I do trust records are being kept of its true character. Without it, Brighton would not be the same.”

We’d be delighted to hear more from you – do e-mail us at regencysocietybh@gmail.com




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