The Twentieth Century Society

Listings reports

Winter 2015/16

Added

31a Grove End Road, LB Westminster; Thomas Tait of Burnet Tait and Lorne, 1926; Grade II
This former sculptor’s studio in St John’s Wood was designed by Tait for the sculptor Sir William Reid Dick. In recommending it for listing, Historic England recognised the standard of studio fittings and the joinery of the gallery reflecting the precise geometric forms of the Scottish Arts & Crafts tradition in which both Tait and Reid Dick were trained. Fragments of the sculptor’s work are incorporated into the building.

A Celebration of Engineering Sciences, relief mural, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Leeds; Allan Johnson, 1963; Grade II
This work has been listed as part of HE’s project on public sculpture erected between 1945 and 1985. Although abstract, it has a theme of ‘symbols representing link mechanisms in mechanical engineering’. HE recognised it as a focal point of the whole architectural scheme and a good example of the commissioning of public artworks by universities in the post-war era.

The Story of Wool sculptural mural, International Development Centre, Valley Drive, Ilkley, West Yorkshire; William Mitchell, 1968; Grade II
This ‘bold design’ depicts an abstracted flock of monumental sheep. HE noted the sense of place inherent in the design and the innovative use of bronze-faced, glass reinforced plastic. It said the sculpture is ‘a good example of the commissioning of public art in the post-war era as a means of adding a degree of human interest, individual identity and aesthetic pleasure to otherwise rather bland, anonymous buildings.’

Octo sculpture, Silbury Boulevard, Milton Keynes; Wendy Taylor, 1978-79; Grade II
This work was commissioned by Milton Keynes Development Corporation as part of the public art programme for the new city. It takes the shape of a figure of eight Mobius strip formed of stainless steel.

Turned Down

No 1 Poultry, City of London; James Stirling, 1997
Our application to list at Grade II* was turned down by the DCMS, despite a strong recommendation from HE, which said that ‘This is a highly significant and accomplished building by an architect of international repute, arguably the quintessential post-modern commercial building and public space.’ After legal advice, we have applied for a review of the decision, on the grounds that there were irregularities in the process: the decision was made, not on the grounds that the architectural or historic merits of the building are insufficient for listing, but because the proposals for substantial alteration do not constitute a threat to its integrity.

Horizon Tobacco Factory, Lenton Lane Industrial Estate, Nottinghamshire; Arup Associates, 1968-71
We appealed unsuccessfully for a review of DCMS’s decision not to list this building, described as the ‘UK’s Largest Cigarette Box’ for its bay structure, somewhat resembling a series of cigarettes in a box. We raised a number of factual and procedural issues, but these were rejected by the Secretary of State.

Benthal Primary School, Benthal Road, LB Hackney; GLC Architects’ Department, 1966-67
We supported an application to list this school, which is under threat of demolition and redevelopment. It is an example of ‘child-centred learning’ design, pioneered during the post-war era. HE concluded that although the 1966-67 phase of the school had some merit, it was not innovative and does not compare favourably with other listed schools of the period.

Mural on the Co-operative Food Store, Burgess Street, Sheffield; William Mitchell, 1972
This mural, comprising ten high-relief panels of abstract design arranged as a frieze and attached to the ring beam of the Co-op building, was cast in situ using Faircrete lightweight concrete. While recognising that it enlivens an otherwise rather anonymous building, HE concluded that its design input and impact did not match Mitchell’s listed works.

Church of St Mary, Wakehurst Drive, Southgate, Crawley, Sussex; Donald F Martin-Smith and Henry Braddock, 1958
St Mary’s is built of reinforced concrete, with an elegant façade of brick and flint and a curved roof sweeping upwards to the east and topped with an openwork bell tower and fleche. HE concluded that the building did not have sufficient architectural interest or innovation in construction and planning to warrant listing.

Radcliffe Civic Suite, Thomas Street, Bury; John Sheard of Cruickshank & Seward, 1974
We supported a third-party application to list this largely unaltered civic suite. A listing attempt in 2010 failed due to the austerity of the exterior and lack of townscape impact, and HE decided that there was a lack of new information for re-assessment.

Hyde Park Barracks, Knightsbridge, LB Westminster; Basil Spence, 1970
DCMS decided not to list Hyde Park Barracks, overriding the advice given by HE, and despite the fact that several Spence buildings less significant than the Barracks are already listed. We understand that the MOD lobbied strongly against listing. We felt that the DCMS had failed to do its job when faced with inappropriate pressure from another government department, and appealed for a review. However, the decision not to list has now been confirmed.

Allbrook House and Library, Danebury Avenue, Roehampton, LB Wandsworth; LCC Architects’ Department (John Partridge, Roy Stout and Tom Kay), 1958-61
We strongly supported the listing of these buildings for their architectural interest and significance as an integral element of the influential Alton West estate, but HE concluded that these buildings are not principal elements and lack a strong visual relationship with the listed parts of the estate.

Former Widnes Magistrates Court, Kingsway, Widnes, Cheshire; Lancashire County Architects’ Department (Roger Booth), 1967
We supported an application to list this Court, a rectangular pavilion supported on piloti and approached by a ceremonial staircase. The exterior is clad in reconstructed marble and stainless steel, with unusual copper roof detailing. HE concluded that overall the buildings are typical of their period and type, while the interiors do not display any planning innovation or ingenuity of design.

Put Forward

The Albany Theatre, Douglas Way, Deptford, LB Lewisham; Howell, Killick, Partridge and Amis, 1982
A successful mix of performance and community leisure/education spaces, wrapped around a courtyard. Based on a key-shaped layout, the two-storey building has an asymmetric concrete frame and brick elevations beneath a big concrete-tiled pitched roof. The theatre auditorium has been described as a ‘gilded birdcage’, from the oval ‘cage’ of steel tubes set within the elongated octagon of dark brown bricks forming the theatre space.

The Alchemist’s Elements murals, Faraday Building, UMIST, Manchester; Hans Tisdall, 1967
We sought the spot-listing of these visually stunning, high quality murals designed by one of the country’s leading mid-century designers. Individual coloured tesserae are formed into a series of mosaic panels installed under the building’s entrance arcade. The mural refers to the building’s function as a chemistry department, depicting the four classical elements of earth, fire, air and water. The murals are at risk due to the imminent demolition of the building.

College of Estate Management, University of Reading; Howell, Killick, Partridge and Amis, 1970-73
This extrovert building was designed by HKPA to house the College after its incorporation into the University of Reading. It has a linear form, with a long central spine from which rooms and large spaces hang like ribs. A series of reinforced concrete frames are placed in pairs at regular intervals, with the beam-ends projecting both horizontally and vertically and with uprights clasped between. These projecting ‘ears’, with echoes of Japanese timber construction, give the building a distinctive rugged appearance. The building is at risk from a proposed refurbishment and upgrade.

Supported

Former Financial Times Printworks, East India Dock Road, LB Tower Hamlets; Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners, 1988
We objected to a proposed Certificate of Immunity and supported listing at Grade II* for this important ‘landmark’ building by one of Britain’s foremost contemporary architects. It was designed with a fully flexible interior to accommodate changes of printing technology. It has both architectural and historic interest because it reflects the short period when traditional newspaper printing was removed from Fleet Street to cheaper, less central sites, but before new technology completely revolutionised the printing process. The glass façade, construction materials and structure were all innovative. It is an outstanding example of a bespoke High-Tech industrial structure of the 1980s.

Inner Temple Treasury Office, Library and Hall, City of London; Sir Hubert Worthington and T W Sutcliffe with Sir Edward Maufe, 1952-58
The reconstruction of three key Inner Temple buildings after damage in WWII was overseen by Maufe, who acted as consultant to Worthington; it was Maufe’s major post-war work. We supported their listing at Grade II in recognition of the intactness of the elegant, restrained and carefully crafted interiors and the close association of Maufe on the project.

Acland Burghley School, Burghley Road, LB Camden; designs by Howell, Killick, Partridge and Amis, 1963-67
The only school by HKPA, Acland Burghley is one of the most distinctive design responses to the challenges of building a large comprehensive on a very constrained site (including spanning a four-track railway). The size was underplayed by breaking up its bulk into different masses, while at the same time more intimate teaching spaces were provided. The striking hexagonal assembly hall is double-ended to serve a variety of functions.

Landmark House, 69 Leadenhall Street, City of London; Terry Farrell and Partners, 1987
We supported a third-party application to list this important corner building by Farrell. In what Pevsner describes as a ‘chunky stone-clad style’, Farrell plays a game with layers, hierarchy, materials (granite, steel and painted aluminium) and form, while taking care to ensure the building complements its urban context. It is an important representative of post-modernism, an under-researched period of C20 architectural history which is only now beginning to be appreciated.

The Four Seasons mural, Myton (formerly Oken) School, Warwick; Alan Sorrell, 1953
This massive 16m mural fills the wall in the main student entrance. The theme is developed through four episodes read from left to right, incorporating references to farming, architecture and landscape, as well as the theme of the ages of man, again from left to right. The mural has been obscured by a plastic panel screen since the summer of 2015.

Churchill Gardens Estate, LB Westminster; Powell and Moya, 1947-54
This estate comprises 1,661 dwellings in 36 blocks spread over 31 acres. With its combination of tall slab blocks, maisonettes and terraces, it is a pioneering example of mixed development and a model for much post-war housing redevelopment. In 1998, six blocks and the Accumulator Tower were Grade II-listed. Residents are concerned that Westminster’s regeneration plans may mean inappropriate infilling of open spaces with private flat developments and the potential demolition of some of the original buildings. We are supporting an application by residents to list the unlisted elements of the estate.

Delisted

Ryder and Yates offices, Killingworth, Tyne and Wear; Ryder and Yates, 1964
This building by an important regional practice is a rare survival of a post-war purpose-built architects office. Although listed only in 2014, it has been removed from the statutory list, the Minister deeming it not of special architectural or historic interest in a national context. The reasons focused on the replacement of the windows and external panelling, citing their subsequent failure and the fact that they also represented significant alterations to the original design.

Ellen Gates

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