Museum of London / Bastion House, City of London
Museum of London / Bastion House, City of London – Powell & Moya (1977)
Risk: Total demolition
The first post-war museum to be built in London and the largest urban history museum in the world, the Museum of London was designed when architects Powell & Moya were at the height of their reputation and prestige. Best known for the Skylon at the Festival of Britain they were one of the most significant practices in postwar Britain.
Housed within an angular and robust white-tiled concrete structure, the museum is skillfully placed on a considerably constrained site. Its solidity protects the interiors from the traffic noise outside and shelters a quiet courtyard garden, while a great dark brick-clad rotunda – referencing the nearby Roman city walls – rises from the centre of a busy roundabout, acting as an arrival point to the complex.
To the east is Bastion house, also by P&M, built as a speculative office development above the podium, as part of the new museum scheme. Standing on piers of biscuit-coloured concrete with Miesian bronzed curtain-walling, it is now a rare survivor of a hugely important part of the City of London’s post-war planning history. Both are now earmarked for demolition, as the museum prepares to move to a new cultural quarter in the renovated Smithfield Market and the City of London seeks to maximise the development potential on the vacated site, located on the corner of the Grade II listed Barbican Estate.
Historic England has issued a Certificate of Immunity (COI) from listing, concluding that the museum and Bastion House fall short of the very high bar that buildings need to reach to be listed, while a highly contentious report by City claims the buildings are ‘very much at the end of their design lives’ and no longer fit for purpose. C20 has strongly objected to the loss of the buildings and joined the ‘Barbican Action Quarter’ campaign group in calling for them to be retained, refurbished and adapted to suit new uses.
How to help: Object to the proposals for the demolition of the Museum of London and Bastion House by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow the @BarbicanQuarter campaign for regular updates.
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