Financier wins £500,000 damages in court case over “ugly duckling” home cinema project


A senior financier has won a court case ordering an architect to pay £500,000 in damages over an “ugly duckling” floating home cinema project.

Daniel Marcal, the architect responsible, was hired to design “an architectural jewel” with a “high-end wow factor” into the £7 million mansion in Totteridge, Barnet, but 55-year-old Philip Freeborn was left with a glass box that had an “industrial feel”, describing it as an “expensive white elephant”.

The case came to light last December when Mr Freeborn took Mr Marcal to court over the project arguing that the only way to fix the situation is to tear it down and start again. 

The case went through court last week and saw the judge order Mr Marcal to pay damages of £500,000 to Mr Freeborn and his wife, Christina Goldie, due to professional negligence.

The couple told the court how the project had gone “badly wrong” and included two extra steel columns that were not in the plans. Mr Marcal argued that he felt “intimidated” by Mr Freeborn and that the couple had approved every stage of the project. 

Mr Marcal was unable to produce key documents as evidence and Judge Bowdery found the architect’s lack of a written brief for the cinema was a serious breach of duty. 

The £500,000 was awarded to Mr Freeborn and Ms Goldie as damages to cover the cost of the “ugly duckling” project, the cost for its demolition, and compensation. The couple will now attempt to recover legal costs from Mr Marcel.