The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

100 Buildings 100 Years

1959: Bracken House, London

Status: Listed Grade II*
Condition: Good condition
Type: Commercial/offices
Architect: Richardson & Houfe
Location: One Friday Street, London EC4M 9JA

In 1988, as a Trojan Horse manned by the Thirties Society’s commandos, Bracken House forced the gates of the listing system to achieve a rolling rather than fixed end-date, with the rest of post-war architecture following behind. Richardson’s elevations, with the quality of their workmanship and materials showed that it was no a washed out relic but a living and breathing Edwardian among the Teddy Boys.

Equally surprising was what followed. As architects for the original replacement scheme, Michael and Patty Hopkins accepted the fait accompli with their Japanese clients, and got permission to replace the central section (built as the printing works) with a structure that sits comfortably in Richardson’s embrace while retaining its own integrity. In the process, the conventions of Modernism, Post-Modernism and Conservation all shifted in their relationship to each other.

Sadly, two other Richardson masterpieces in the City, the 1914 Moorgate Hall and 1923 Leith House, were lost in the 1980s boom and lumpy cross-eyed monsters took their place.

by Alan Powers

Listing description

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