The Twentieth Century Society is pleased to announce that Assael Architecture has now put together an alternative scheme that would keep Milton Court while fulfilling the City’s brief for additional concert facilities for the Guildhall School of Music within a mixed use development.
Milton Court was not listed together with the rest of the Barbican in 2001 and has been at risk of demolition ever since. It was the first phase of the Barbican development but was built as an island site that is connected to the residential development via a footbridge. This position has made it extremely vulnerable and there are now plans to demolish this outstanding concrete structure. The Guildhall School of Music urgently needs a larger auditorium and studio rooms that are to be accommodated within a new thirty floor mixed use tower block on the Milton Court site.
“This is a gross overdevelopment and we convinced that the city’s brief can be satisfied without pulling down Milton Court in the process”, says Eva Branscome of the Twentieth Century Society. “Assael Architecture has been able to put together an alternative scheme: It would build within the courtyard of the former fire station that was a part of the original use. In addition to the existing building and on top of the new facilities for the music school 35,000 square feet of residential space can be created within the new drum-shaped glass structure.”
Assael’s sleek and contemporary design chooses a shape and material that is in striking contrast to the brutalist concrete building by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon. It is a highly successful scheme and shows that there is scope to develop and even enhance Milton Court.
Milton Court was designed in1959 and is an extremely important building in its own right apart from the role it plays as a part of the Barbican Complex. The public services of the building (fire station, coroner’s court, office of weights and measures, civil defence school and mortuary) are successfully integrated within its architectural form, as well as the residential component and public walkways. This was later explored further at the Barbican on a much larger scale. The scale and façade design of the building, as well as the way that its concrete mass appears to hover over the pilotis show a striking similarity to the work of Corbusier. This is a highly sculptural building with an exciting and restless interplay of mass and space.
There is no doubt that Milton Court contributes significantly to the fabric and historic context of the city and English Heritage is now finally considering it for listing. The Twentieth Century Society strongly supports the listing application and thinks that it is a major oversight the building has not yet been placed under historic protection.