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Cullinan-designed office faces demolition

Ted Cullinan has attempted to stop the demolition of one his RIBA award-winning projects by applying to get it listed

Plans have been revealed which could see the Ready Mix Concrete International HQ in Surrey (pictured) pulled down and replaced with terraced housing.

In an attempt to halt the building’s demolition Cullinan Studio has submitted a listing application to English Heritage. If successful it will become one of the rare nineties-built buildings to be listed. Just 0.2 per cent of listed buildings were constructed post-1945.

The single-storey office building which was completed in 1990 is regarded as one of the practice’s most important works and set a precedent for low-energy, ecological building design.

The building was sold to cement company Cemex in 2005, which commissioned the feasibility study to demolish the office complex.

Comment from Ted Cullinan

The Ready Mix Concrete (RMC) Headquarters Building is the building in which the ideas that have always interested and inspired me are most thoroughly combined in a single work.

Its setting is an historic one, of one early eighteenth century house, its nineteenth century stable block and a nineteenth century half-timbered and gabled house typical of the Thames Valley. All had been more or less wrecked with additions over the years.

We restored the three houses and re-set the first two in courtyards generated from the width of their classical frontages; these courtyards being made out of new office, social and sports accommodation for RMC. The half-timbered Arts and Crafts house was left more freestanding, only loosely connected to the other accommodation and used for training.

The new accommodation makes the garden courts and has gardens on top of it which fulfil 3 functions: they contribute to the super insulation of the buildings and the temperature flywheel effect; they can be enjoyed by the occupants; and they provide a good view from neighbouring St Anne’s Hill as asked for by the local people and planners. So the whole scheme allowed me the great pleasure of seamlessly continuing the landscape, gardening and building, a thing I’d always longed to do. 

Before RMC I had done many buildings which were well insulated, passive solar and so on; but RMC was the first which combined heavy heat-storing roofs, high insulation and underfloor trickle heating and ventilation.

Spaces and places inside and out interpenetrate with one another, and each leads to another one or two.

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