Plymouth could be set to get a new tower if plans are realised for Clyde Quay Tower overlooking the harbour.
The 15 floor proposal features a sail shape with two floors of leisure and retail on the bottom followed by six levels of hotel and the remainder of the scheme being housing as part of a wider vision for the regeneration of Plymouth that's been master-planned by David MacKay.
Developed by the English Cities Fund, it has already received outline planning permission from the local authorities in Plymouth but there is a potential fly in the soup thanks to the sail-like shape the structure follows.
The owners of the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai have threatened legal action because the concept by architect RTKL, one that the architect said was "indicative" during the launch, is what they believe is too striking a similarity to the famous middle-eastern hotel.
It raises the question of architectural plagiarism, an idea which legally does exist but is rarely persued as architects frequently borrow ideas from each other. In this case there is little similarity between the designs that cannot be seen on show elsewhere such as the Portsmouth Spinnaker Tower however trademark infringement could be a perspective avenue which could be followed.
The idea that the Burj Al Arab could have complete control over any vague proposals for a sail-like shaped hotel building is one that is not so novel as seen from the way the lighting on the Eiffel Tower is protected although it has never been used in such broad terms before as it would seemingly prohibit any building of the same use as the original from having an even slightly similar shape.
The owners of the Turning Torso in Malmo must be kicking themselves they never got legally heavy with those planning and indeed building a whole raft of twisting towers around the world.
Nonetheless, such legal action, even if groundless can have a huge chilling effect if a larger body is picking on a smaller body as commercial considerations as well as legalities come into play. Justice isn't free and defending a large lawsuit is expensive and it could well be cheaper for the architect to simply revise the plans than to have the developer battle it out, even if the law is on their side.
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