United Kingdom

Architect suspended after designing £450,000 'wonky' home cinema for banker

An architect has been suspended for his 'serious failings' after a £450,000 home cinema he designed for a multi-millionaire banker ended up 'wonky'. 

Daniel Marcal was hired by the former head of operations at Barclays Capital, Philip Freeborn, to create a bespoke home cinema with a 'high-end wow factor' for his £7million mansion in Totteridge, Barnet, north London, in 2014. 

But Mr Freeborn and his wife Christina Goldie were instead left with an 'ugly duckling' glass box.

The couple has now successfully sued Mr Marcal at the High Court for £500,000 over the 'expensive white elephant', arguing that tearing it down and starting again was the only option.   

Former head of operations at Barclays Capital, Philip Freeborn, hired architect Daniel Marcal to create a home cinema with a 'high-end wow factor' but was left with a 'wonky ugly duckling' glass box (pictured)

Mr Freeborn and his wife Christina Goldie have now successfully sued Mr Marcal (pictured outside the High Court) at the High Court for £500,000 over the 'expensive white elephant'

Now, following a hearing held by the Architects Registration Board, Mr Marcal has been found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct and handed a 12-month suspension for his 'serious failings'.

A disciplinary hearing was told that a series of revisions were made to the couple's plans for a home cinema in 2014 and 2015.

It was intended to be a 'sleek modern design' that 'floated' in the roof space of the couple's leisure room at their home.

The couple, who had sought almost £1million in damages, told the High Court in 2019 that the project had gone 'badly wrong', with the addition of two extra steel columns not in the plans.

The judge agreed that they had been left with a home cinema that had a 'wonky, industrial look'.

Mr Marcal, who ran his own practice and recently declared bankruptcy, argued that he only had a limited role and claimed the couple had approved all stages of the project and that any perceived defects were within acceptable levels.

The couple (left, Christina Goldie and right, Philip Freeborn, both outside the High Court), who had sought almost £1million in damages, told the High Court in 2019 that the project had gone 'badly wrong', with the addition of two extra steel columns not in the plans

The architect also claimed he had felt 'intimidated' by Mr Freeborn while he worked on the design.

Giving his decision at the High Court, judge Martin Bowdery QC, said: 'During the course of the trial, some time was taken up with disputes as to whether the [couple] were promised an architectural jewel or a cinema with a wow factor.

'I make no findings as to what precisely was said because I consider that any architect authorised to spend sums in excess of £460,000 on a glass box would be expected to produce a design not only in accordance with his clients' expectations but also something 'bespoke' and 'high end'.

'That is not what the [couple] reasonably thought had been provided. What was provided had not been discussed with them and had not been approved by them.'

He added: 'They were entitled to be outraged by what they saw had been produced at great cost, which was not what they were expecting.

Pictured: The exterior of Mr Freeborn and Ms Goldie's £7million mansion in Barnet, north London

'[They] have decided to demolish the cinema room. I consider such a decision to be a reasonable decision... I do not consider that this particular ugly duckling can be turned into a swan.'

The judge ruled that the cost of demolishing the cinema, along with any wasted money spent on the job, should be borne by the architect.

After hearing details of the case, the misconduct tribunal concluded: 'The Committee notes that the matters found proved are serious to the extent that [Marcal's] failings diminish both his reputation, and that of the profession generally.

'The Committee therefore concluded that [his] conduct was sufficiently serious for it to require the imposition of a sanction.'

Mr Marcal was spared being struck off the register, and was handed a 12 month suspension.

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