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THE WRECKING BALL LOOMS

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AGENDA

Two signifi cant buildings from the body of work produced by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon (CPB) in the 1950s and '60s are under threat of demolition.

Milton Court, a 1966 adjunct to the practice's vast Barbican Estate in the City of London, and the Geoffrey Chaucer School in Elephant and Castle, built in 1958, are both expecting visits from the demolition contractors.

CPB - most famous for its work at the Barbican Estate - is considered to be one of the most significant private offices to have emerged in post-war Britain, and was responsible for many of the more memorable Modern buildings of this period.

Milton Court, which unlike the rest of the Barbican is not listed, is currently under threat due to proposals for a City of London-backed scheme to replace the building with a 44-storey tower designed by David Walker Architects.

The structure, which Barbican residents are battling to rescue, was developed before the rest of the estate, and included a fire station, a coroner's court, an office of weights and measures, a civil defence school and a mortuary.

John Assael has even stepped in to the growing row, drawing up a scheme which he claims proves that demolition of the building is unnecessary.

CPB's Geoffrey Chaucer School in Elephant and Castle appears to be under an even greater threat of demolition - at least in part.

The building looks likely to face partial flattening, this time to make way for a new City Academy, being designed by Future Systems.

This is a very different case from Milton Court, however. There is a strong argument for the demolition of parts of the school, which is regarded by the local authority as failing and has been placed in 'special measures' by the government.

Future Systems is nonetheless attempting to retain some of the best elements of the school, including the pentagonal assembly hall, which will be restored as part of the construction work.

This part of the project (above and above-right), has an unusual engineering solution which allowed for the creation of 1,300m 2 of space free from central supports, covered by a hyperbolic paraboloid roof made up of five concrete shells.

But CPB's other buildings on the site, including a fourstorey classroom block and another four-storey building of 'practical rooms', are facing the wrecking ball after being approved for demolition.

And it seems that English Heritage is sympathetic to the need to send in the bulldozers - and the move has even won the support of former CPB partner Frank Woods.

What is certain is that these two historic sites will not remain in their current form for much longer.

No doubt there are those who will shout from the rooftops that both the City and Walker should take a leaf out of Future Systems' book and at least consider the retention of Milton Court - one of the key parts of London's limited Modernist heritage.

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