Littlehampton’s link to new Guggenheim museum

The architect whose first job was to design the West Beach Caf� could now be crafting the new Guggenheim
The architect whose first job was to design the West Beach Caf� could now be crafting the new Guggenheim

THE architect responsible for the sleek and modern design of a Littlehampton café could now be turning his hand to crafting the new Guggenheim museum.

Asif Khan, who designed the West Beach Café, has been named as the only British architect out of more than 1,700 entries worldwide to have been shortlisted to design the new, ultra-modern Guggenheim Helsinki, in Finland.

The 35-year-old Londoner began his career in Littlehampton, with café owner Jane Wood giving him is first professional commission.

A delighted Jane – who also owns the internationally acclaimed East Beach Café – said this was a fantastic result, not just for Khan, but for Littlehampton, too.

She said: “I always thought he was a very, very clever chap. But this is just fabulous.

“It brings more people into the town and it’s really positive publicity. It’s the kind of publicity that we need and that any town would certainly want.”

Khan and his practice were just one of only six to make the final cut of the prestigious competition, with others from the USA, Germany, France and Switzerland also making the grade.

During his career he has won numerous awards for his architectural brilliance and was even named as one of the ‘ones to watch in 2012’ by the Observer newspaper.

However, it was Jane Wood who was the first to see his potential

She hired him while he was still a student, following a recommendation from a friend.

“He was a student at the Architectural Association and a friend had seen some of his work and asked me to look at it to see what I thought,” Jane said. “Well, I thought it was excellent.

“He was a lot younger than Thomas Heatherwick, who did the East Beach Café, but he was certainly very talented.

“So I decided to commission him. It was his first job.”

Khan will now be working on his final plans which could ultimately see his designs for the imposing 39,698 sq ft Guggenheim being given the green light.

The finalists will need to submit their proposals for the second-round deadline in March.

A winner will be announced in June and will receive €100,000 (£79,341.50) and the five runner-ups will each get €55,000 (£43,637.82).