Perhaps it was a secret ingredient that Heston Blumenthal put in the “meat fruit” that he served to the guests at the opening of One Hyde Park …
… but something about last Wednesday’s event seemed to get everyone a little over-excited.
Graham Stirk got things off to a good start by observing during his speech that, although he had no children of his own, he viewed One Hyde Park as his baby. The assembled crowd of billionaire oil magnates shed a collective tear – picturing, perhaps, the painful image that Stirk had placed before them.
However, it was Richard Rogers’ observation that this high-security haven of the super-rich was “a 21st century monument” that attracted the most attention. “A monument to the ever-widening gap between rich and poor,” countered Alexander Chancellor in the Guardian.
But Chancellor was positively mild compared with Giles Coren’s takedown in the Times. “If having to live in a flat at One Hyde Park is the price of being super-rich, then the super-rich are welcome to their money,” he chortled.
“All those billions and yet they must be confined to a vast vertical prison of marble rooms designed by some terrible lisping gimp, with special bomb-proof cells to lock themselves in every time someone poor rings the doorbell, no English-speaking neighbours, their only entertainment an episode of Corrie in the shower, their only human contact a sweaty Russian gangster in the spa or a chance encounter with Sheikh Hamad al-Thani in the lift.”
If the Mail on Sunday’s investigation is to be believed, Sheikh Hamad al-Thani – a financial backer of the project – is just about the only person you are going to meet if you buy an apartment at the development.
“Over 50% of the 86 apartments have been sold with exchanged sales totalling £1 billion” claimed the launch press release.
The Mail duly checked the Land Registry and found that the claim was, to put it generously, a little premature. So far, only two apartment sales have been registered. One of these went to Sheikh al-Thani for a reported £40.5 million – almost £100 million less than the asking price. And the other? Sold to Christian Candy for £31 million – a price that again represents a gargantuan discount.
If you feel the architectural merits of the project have received rather less attention than they deserve amid all this brouhaha, fret not.
Our critic Oliver Wainwright has donned the BD fake sheikh outfit and headed to Knightsbridge to make a down-payment on a penthouse.
If he can be lured out of his gold-plated panic room he will be giving a full assessment of One Hyde Park next week.
19 January 2011