The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

1 Poultry, City of London, photo credit: Sarah Duncan
1 Poultry, City of London photo credit: Sarah Duncan

Twentieth Century Society statement on 1 Poultry listing decision

The Twentieth Century Society is very disappointed with the decision not to list 1 Poultry. It is extraordinary that this decision has been made not on the grounds that the architectural or historic merits of the building are inadequate for listing. Listing has been refused because DCMS has overridden the opinion of Historic England and the original design team that the current proposals for substantial alteration do constitute a threat to the building’s integrity.  We are currently looking at options for challenging this decision which leaves Britain’s foremost post-modern building extremely vulnerable.

Prompted by proposals to extend and alter the principal facades of the building, we submitted an urgent application for listing at grade II*. Historic England, the government’s advisers on heritage matters, advised that the building should be listed, stating in their recommendation to the Secretary of State 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.”

However DCMS turned down the recommendation on the grounds that the proposed alterations did not constitute a substantial threat to the building. The planning application is still live and due to be determined by the City of London shortly.

Located in the heart of the City of London on a highly prominent corner site by Bank tube, this monumental office and retail complex stands out for its remarkable and playful form, high quality materials – including sandstone cladding from Australia – and incorporation of public realm spaces.

No 1 Poultry was designed in 1985-6 and built in 1994-7 to designs by James Stirling Michael Wilford and Associates. It includes ground floor retail with bespoke bowed shop fronts and a covered public shopping ‘arcade’ on the principal facades that would be lost under the proposals. The building also incorporates a public internal atrium lined with glazed ceramic tiles that is open to the sky, and a roof top restaurant and landscaped gardens.

The construction of 1 Poultry, completed after Stirling’s death in 1992, was mired in controversy, largely due to the demolition of 8 listed 19th century buildings that previously occupied the site. After three public inquiries and considerable media attention, construction of No 1 Poultry – which also includes some architectural features of the previous buildings – began in 1994.