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Brunswick Centre could test real implications of listing

Editorial

For a heated debate, the furore surrounding the proposed redevelopment of the Brunswick Centre is characterised by a good deal of consensus. Reassuringly, all the players agree that this is a building of out standing quality and importance. Its a sign of the times. This is, after all, an age which is obsessed with the search for intelligent means of providing high-density urban housing, and one which views Brutalism as fashionable: T rellick Tower has been listed, and people flock to buy flat s in Alexander Fleming House.

And nobody doubts that Allied London has showed it self to be an enlightened client in approaching Patrick Hodgkin - son, the architect of the Brunswick Centre, to carry out alterations to the scheme. Issues of intellectual copyright, sentiment and nostalgia, and plain good manners come into play when alterations are entrusted to the original architect there can be few architect s who did not feel at least a degree of sympathy with Denys Lasduns reservations about alterations to the National Theatre and Richard Rogers disapproval of recent changes to the Pompidou.

Finally , there are practical advantages which make the original architect an obvious first choice knowledge of the site, appropriate experience, and a through understanding of the project, to name a few .

Objections have been made to the scheme, but not to the architect. Hodgkinson enjoys widespread respect and support. But there is no reason why his scheme should be subject to less stringent controls than any other scheme, and indeed he does not suggest that this should be the case. If we believe in the validity of the various institutions established to protect the built environment, Hodgkinson must gain their approval. Listing, if it happens, will make the process that much more difficult, and there is some debate as to how constructive that will be. Tom Jestico, for example, argues that listing preserves the status quo, while the Twentieth Century Society claims that it most emphatically does not (Letters, AJ 03.02.00). If listing goes ahead, the authorities should seize this opportunity to prove the latter view . If change is to capture the spirit of the original building, Hodgkinson should be encouraged to deliver a design which is both radical and strong.

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