The Twentieth Century Society

C20 Lost Modern Campaign

Demolition of Madin's Birmingham Central library in 2016

C20 Society Looks Back in Anger at Britain’s Lost Heritage

Some of Britain’s most dynamic and expressive buildings are being lost to the developers’ wrecking ball because the speed of demolition increasingly outpaces heritage recognition, says Catherine Croft, Director of campaign group, the Twentieth Century Society.

The map and list above right show the ‘Lost Modern’ demolished Twentieth Century buildings that we have posted so far.

“As a society we tend to under-value the architectural accomplishments of the preceding generation,” said Catherine. “But in time the most loathed and deeply unfashionable buildings can end up both loved and listed. It’s hard to remember just how reviled Victorian Gothic once was, now that St. Pancras, which was only saved by the efforts of John Betjeman and the Victorian Society, is a treasured masterpiece and a glamorous hotel.

“Good C20th architecture is losing out to more easily understood building periods such as Victorian and Georgian when it comes to the increasing pressures for redevelopment.  But these buildings are a valuable legacy which add to the richness of the fabric of our architectural heritage and the best examples should be safeguarded for future generations.  Sadly this is just not happening. These buildings formed the background to our everyday lives and their absence will impoverish us all.”

The Lost Modern List, the first of its kind to be published, includes civic buildings, social housing, shopping centres, a car park, a library, private houses, factories and a supermarket.

“The planning system is failing to protect some of our most outstanding buildings by the top architects of the post war period,” said Catherine. “All buildings age and need sensitive care and adaptation.   Sadly the misconception that buildings constructed from modern materials like concrete and steel don’t need regular maintenance means that many neglected buildings are wrongly perceived as having failed, when all they need is modest refurbishment.   Many of these lost buildings might have been saved through good management. Times change and uses change too and our good buildings need to be sympathetically adapted, not as is often the case, wilfully destroyed and replaced by cheap, quick fix solutions that will please no one and not stand the test of time.”

These were the first 10 buildings posted on the Lost Modern list, which aims to raise awareness of this threat to our heritage:

  1. Robin Hood Gardens by Alison and Peter Smithson (1972-2017)
  2. The Firestone Building by Wallis, Gilbert and Partners (1928-1980)
  3. Greenside by Connell, Ward and Lucas (1937-2003)
  4. Birmingham Central Library by John Madin (1974-2016)
  5. The Silhouette Corset Factory by Robert Townsend and structural engineer Hugh Tottenham (1960-2002)
  6. Sainsbury’s Greenwich Store, by Paul Hinkin of Chetwood Associates (1999-2016)
  7. The Tricorn Centre by Rodney Gordon of Owen Luder Partnership (1966-2004)
  8.  The Trinity Square Car Park & Shopping Centre by Rodney Gordon of Owen Luder Partnership (1969-2010)
  9. Milton Court by Chamberlin, Powell & Bon (1959-2008)
  10. Horder House Edward Cullinan (1960-2005)

Sadly, this list represents just the tip of the iceberg of lost modern buildings; more examples will be added to this site over the coming weeks and months.

For press enquiries:

Catherine Croft, Director Twentieth Century Society
catherine@c20society.org.uk 020 7250 3857