CHAUCER SHOULD NOT BE CONSIGNED TO HISTORY
I was delighted to see your editorial praise the 'robustness, endurance and quality' of Milton Court (AJ 12.10.06), and to see you publish photographs both of this Chamberlin, Powell and Bon (CPB) building and of the same practice's Geoffrey Chaucer School in south London. This is a great reminder of just how good this firm's work was.
The Twentieth Century Society (C20), however, thinks that there is a viable future for both these buildings and we were delighted that the scheme which John Assael has prepared for C20 - proving that the demolition of Milton Court is unnecessary - has started to get people talking about alternatives for the Barbican site.
We hope to do the same for the Geoffrey Chaucer site.
Yes, it is a failing school, and arguably its buildings are unsuitable for future education uses, but with all the redevelopment planned for the Elephant and Castle area it must surely be possible to find a new site for the proposed City Academy and look at alternative options for all the listed buildings on the current site, and not just the pentagonal pavilion.
After all, government guidance on listed buildings says that the unencumbered freehold of a listed building should be offered for sale on the open market before demolition is started - this has not ever been seriously contemplated by Southwark Council for the Geoffrey Chaucer School, and such action would have the added advantage of not exposing pupils to the disruption of redevelopment.
Geoffrey Chaucer School is an outstanding complex of buildings which exemplifies the 'placemaking' ideology which CPB was so passionate about. By suggesting that the pavilion be kept on its own, Future Systems misses the point and risks destroying a subtle combination of foreground and background architecture that could act as a much-needed exemplar at both local and national level.
Catherine Croft, director, the Twentieth Century Society