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C20 Society speaks out over Sampson House demolition

The Twentieth Century Society has objected to plans to demolish Fitzroy Robinson & Partners’ Brutalist Sampson House on London’s Southbank

PLP submitted 130,000m² plans to replace the 1979 Lloyds Bank processing house with six new buildings overlooking the Thames last year.

The Twentieth Century Society has written to local authority Southwark Council criticising the application for failing to assess the building’s heritage or show alternative reuses had been explored.

The Society argued the building should be considered a non-designated heritage asset, requiring the council to consider the full potential impact of demolition.

The letter said: ‘Without a full assessment of the heritage significance of Sampson House and possible alternative uses, it is not possible for the local planning authority to come to a balanced judgment regarding the significance of the heritage asset, as required by the NPPF.’

Completed in 1979, the centralised cheque-clearing was designed to house huge antiquated computers. Featuring large open plan offices and narrow windows to minimize natural light, the building included innovative environmental controls to recycle energy and regulate heat.

The building – now used as an IBM data store – included its own oil reserves and power station and was designed to last 125 years – built from a concrete frame clad with prefabricated concrete panels.

The Twentieth Century Society described the 50,000m² Sampson House as deceptively large and ‘carefully designed to minimise its mass’.

It said: ‘The building was sited on the edge of the City, to be convenient to the client’s other facilities while taking advantage of the lower costs and availability of labour outside the City.

‘The architects have taken great care to ensure the building fits in well with its riverside setting. Pevsner noted that the “sleek stepped-back upper floors” look like “superimposed streamlined train carriages”.’

Neighboring Ludgate House would also be demolished to make way for the regeneration. The society regretted loss of the 1989 office building – designed by the same architect – but raised no formal objection to the proposal.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Dear Pevsner - how people like to use the fact that he has commented on a building to establish the building's design credentials. Removal of this building from the river's edge, and the city's skyline, must surely be welcome.

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