The Twentieth Century Society

Listings reports

Autumn/Winter 2016

C20 Society regularly nominates buildings to be listed by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, which then triggers an assessment from Historic England. We also support listing campaigns by other organisations and individuals. Ellen Gates reports on recent developments

Added

1 Poultry, London EC2, James Stirling / Michael Wilford Assoc, 1997; Grade II*
We’re delighted by the success of our legal challenge to the Minister’s earlier refusal to list this outstanding post-modern building on the ground that it was not ‘at risk’. HE had backed our proposal and agreed that ‘the proposed changes, if effected, would alter the character and structure of the original building.’ We hope that more post-modern listings will follow, and that a more sensible view of what constitutes a ‘threat’ to a building will be taken in future.

College of Estate Management / URS Building, University of Reading 1, Howell, Killick, Partridge & Amis, 1970 – 73; Grade II
The space in this ‘extrovert’ teaching building is fragmented into groups of rooms of differing sizes, creating a strong silhouette of constantly changing cross-section. HE noted in particular ‘the playful exaggeration of the post and lintel joints’, which ‘give the building drama, wit and virtuosity’, and the practical and cost efficient central corridor plan which brings light into the core of the building.

St Michael’s House, 2 Elizabeth Street, Victoria, London SW1, N F Cachemaille-Day, 1937; Grade II
This striking composition next to Victoria Coach Station was listed for its architectural interest and intactness, with the interior spaces surviving well, particularly the stunning chapel mosaic by Eric Newton. HE noted its historic importance as part of a wider reforming programme, providing respectable family-friendly facilities for exercise and leisure in impoverished areas.

Nine Ceramic Mural Panels, Barbican High Walk, London EC2 2, Dorothy Annan, 1960s; Grade II
These mural panels, abstract representations of the telecommunications industry, were re-listed by HE following their removal from the Fleet Building, Farringdon Street to the High Walk in the Barbican.

Spiral Nebula, Herschel Building, University of Newcastle, Geoffrey Clarke, 1962 / Market Woman, High St, Gateshead, Hans Schwarz, 1966 / Parson’s Polygon, Blackett St, Newcastle, David Hamilton, 1982; all Grade II
These three works were all listed as part of HE’s thematic review of public sculpture 1945 – 1985. Spiral Nebula, outside Sir Geoffrey Spence’s physics building, is one of several examples of collaboration between Spence and Clarke in the 1960s. Of grey-painted steel and incorporating an abstracted receiving dish, electrical coil, and antenna, it has been seen as a symbol of the scientific advances made in the 1960s, especially in relation to space travel.

Theatr Harlech and Residential Tower, Coleg Harlech, Harlech, Gwynedd, Colwyn Foulkes & Partners, 1973 and 1968; Grade II* (tower unlisted)
Coleg Harlech is a 1927 residential college for adults on a steeply sloping site facing the sea. The brutalist theatre, of concrete with a steel frame, is based on a classical Greek amphitheatre with a raked auditorium with excellent sight-lines and acoustics, and retains its high-quality interior detailing. The 12-storey tower is also in brutalist style, using pre-cast concrete panels with local granite. CADW will update the list description to include the theatre, making it the first post-war building of its type to be listed in Wales. Unfortunately, the tower was turned down for listing.

Brixton Recreation Centre, Brixton Station Road, London SW9; LB Lambeth George Finch, 1974 – 85; Grade II
Billed as the most sophisticated indoor sports centre in England, the Brixton Rec has a remarkable interior spatial arrangement, with a glazed circulation atrium which creates, in the words of the listing description, ‘dynamic, dramatic and sculptural spaces which optimise natural light [and] encourage interactivity’. It also has both social and cultural interest, reflecting the architects’ socialist ideals and providing an important social centre for the community.

Turned Down

Former Post Office, Station Road, West Drayton, Frederick Llewellyn, 1933
We supported a third party application to list this Arts & Crafts building but HE said that extensions had compromised the original architectural detail, composition and massing and that little of the original interior survives.

Inner Temple Treasury Office, Library and Hall, London, Sir Hubert Worthington and T W Sutcliffe with Sir Edward Maufe, 1952 – 58
We objected unsuccessfully to a Certificate of Immunity application for these key three Inner Temple buildings which were considered not to meet the high bar for post-war listed buildings in their external treatment, group value, and historic interest in the context of the other Inns of Court.

Smallbrook Queensway (The Ringway Centre), Birmingham, James Roberts, 1962
HE granted a Certificate of Immunity to this complex of four office buildings, the first completed part of Birmingham’s inner ring road, saying that its role in the cityscape depended on its outline and relationship to the road and other buildings rather than architectural quality.

60 Hornton Street, RB Kensington & Chelsea, James Melvin of Gollins Melvin & Ward, 1969
This house by Melvin for himself was ingeniously designed to fit maximum space on a small site. It was turned down due to what HE called lack of innovation and ambition in design and materials, and also because of the internal alterations undertaken in 1994.

Harp Heating, United House, Goldsel Road, Swanley 9, John Outram, 1985
We submitted an urgent application to list this bold and challenging office complex (with its ‘robot order’ of serviced columns) by this key exponent of post-modern architecture, but we were unable to prevent its demolition.

Put Forward

Sayers Croft, Cranleigh Road, Ewhurst, Surrey, T S Tait, 1938
Now an outdoor learning centre, Sayers Croft was part of the scheme to move schools from cities in the event of war. Of 33 camps, it is the only virtually unaltered example in its original setting, with pre-fab wooden huts, air-raid shelters, water tower and swimming pool. The main dining hall is already listed Grade II, and we have applied to update the listing to include all the buildings on the site.

Sea Roads, Cliff Road, Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan, Gordon H. Griffiths, 1939; Grade II
This flat-roofed building with asymmetrical white rendered facades, curved bays facing both the garden and the drive, and a virtually intact interior, is a rare example of Welsh modernism. Listed at Grade II in 2006, we are now seeking to have the listing upgraded to II* to help protect this well-preserved building against extensive proposed alterations.

Sir Thomas White Building, St John’s College, Oxford, Arup Associates, 1975
This five-storey r-shaped building is a series of pavilions with groups of four student rooms on each floor, alternating with service towers. The pavilions have a precast concrete frame (with double columns, splayed joints and cantilevered corners), brought forward to form an exoskeleton in front of a full-height secondary glazed enclosure. We have put it forward for listing at Grade II* in the light of plans to make damaging internal alterations.

Underhill, Woodhead Road, Holme, Yorkshire, Arthur Quarmby, 1976
This, the first modern earth-berm house in Britain, was designed by Quarmby for his family (see Casework report). The house is cut 5m deep into rock, built around an interior pool and lit by a large roof lantern. His idea of ‘Romantasy’, the ‘environmental pleasure and human use of the vernacular’, was in part a reaction to Miesian modernism.

Chrisp Street Market (including shops, housing, Festival Inn and clock tower), Lansbury Estate, Poplar, Frederick Gibberd, 1951
The market was part of the Lansbury Estate, built for the Festival of Britain. The first pedestrianised shopping centre in Britain,
it was the prototype for countless others with arcaded shops below, flats and maisonettes above and a pedestrianised area in front. Festival-style detailing was applied and the facades are lively and colourful. Gibberd adopted an innovative scissor-like form for the tower staircases, creating a distinctive pattern of diamond-shaped openings.

Manchester Reform Synagogue, Jackson’s Row, Manchester, Levy and Cummings, 1952
This first and finest of several synagogues by Levy and Cummings is highly intact and has a significant cycle of impressive stained glass windows by local firm Charles Lightfoot depicting biblical themes – figurative depictions of the human form were widely considered taboo until the 1950s. Along with the rest of the area, it is at great risk from large scale redevelopment. It would make a worthy addition to the limited number of listed post-war synagogues.

Supported

Crawley Court, Peach Hill Lane, Winchester, Ware and McGregor Partnership, 1974
This HQ for the Independent Television Authority’s engineering division comprises
two rectangular three-storey office blocks with open plan wings around a central courtyard, linked by a two-storey block housing the entrance foyer. A terrace overlooks hexagonal water fountains, pools and lawns. The crisp, strong and light form gives a cloistered feel and defers to the existing landscape.

Plastic Classroom, Kennington Primary School, Fulwood, Preston, Roger Booth, 1974
This unique structure, a 16ft tall modified icosahedron, is of 35 glass reinforced polyester moulded panels on a concrete frame. It implemented new planning ideas and used an innovative mass production process. Plans for an entire plastic school were never fulfilled due to a global rise in oil prices.

Cotton Valley sewage works, Pineham, Milton Keynes, Trevor Denton and David Harbord for MKDC
One of the first buildings in Milton Keynes, this utilitarian building (with a steel frame and Astrawall cladding) was designed to a high standard that set a benchmark for the more public buildings that were to follow.

Building 6 East, University of Bath, Alison and Peter Smithson, 1988
The Architecture and Civil Engineering building was the Smithsons’ final significant work in the UK and one of five for the Bath campus. It is a case study in their concept of Conglomerate Ordering, which describes how a site can be extended in a contextual way. The three levels form a vertical link between different levels of the campus, with an external staircase that hugs one facade.

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