Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

AJ Exclusive: the reasons why English Heritage backed Commonwealth Institute plans

  • 1 Comment

English Heritage (EH) has claimed it ‘would have been irresponsible to turn away’ OMA’s controversial Commonwealth Institute plans

In a letter to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (see the original here), the organisation said that the ‘substantial public benefits secured through the application’ – including the arrival of the Design museum – would ‘outweigh the harm’ to the Grade II*-listed, West London landmark (1962).

EH admitted the proposals, which were approved a week before the organisation submitted its formal thoughts, had raised a ‘difficult question of balancing competing planning aims’, mainly due to the loss of the ‘administration wing and designed landscape’ and ‘compromising’ alterations to the exhibition hall.

However, EH conceded that the plans by Rem Koolhaas’ practice, which were revised following an initial outcry, were now acceptable. The letter reads:

‘[This] building is at risk and there is an increasingly urgent need to secure its future through a new, economically viable and sustainable use. These proposals are intended to repair and adapt the exhibition hall for a new public cultural use. Such a change has the potential to enhance the significance and communal value of the building. In our view, this would be a major public benefit, which best reflects the original design intent and significance of the building.’

Speaking to the AJ, EH’s London regional director Paddy Pugh, said: ‘[By allowing this] We are helping to secure a sustainable future for the most important parts of the building. It would have been irresponsible to turn away from this building, which has sat empty for 13 years, in the hope that somebody might have come along [and retained the entire building]. It might have sat empty for another 13 years.’

He added: ‘We do not see this as selling out the building or turning our backs on post-war architecture. We have spent six months going through the proposals and weighing up their individual benefits and harm. We are not shying away from the damage but it is wholly clear the benefits, in this exceptional case, do outweigh the harm.’


 

  • 1 Comment

Related files

Readers' comments (1)

  • So, English Heritage caves in again. You do have to wonder why. It's so inconsistent.

    Last week Bradford Odeon, this week the Commonwealth Institute.

    Why not try for something which doesn't damage the building? Will it now be delisted, or downgraded?

    Answers please Paddy Pugh.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs