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C20 Society warns against demolition of early Seifert building

The Twentieth Century Society has raised concerns over plans by developer Derwent to demolish the Seifert and Partners’ designed former Copyright House building in central London.

Plans to replace two buildings at 29-33 Berners Street in Fitzrovia with a Piercy & Company designed 9,750m² office block emerged last month (AJ 15.08.14).

The Twentieth Century Society, which was unsuccesful in a bid to get the building listed earlier this year, said: ‘The society considers the Copyright Building among Seifert and Partners’ best earlier works. It is as an early post-war example of the work of Seifert [examples of which are]becoming increasingly rare’.

A spokesperson added: ‘The Society believes there is ample scope for the sympathetic refurbishment of this distinctive building. Its loss will only diminish Fitzrovia, not providing any demonstrable benefit through its demise.’

Considered one of the most prominent British architects of the last century, Richard Seifert’s previous works include the Centrepoint Tower on the corner of Oxford Street and Tower 42, formerly known as the Natwest Tower, in the City of London.

Constructed between 1956-8, Copyright House was purpose built as offices and neighbours the neo-Georgian office designed by Angell & Curtiss. Both are slated for demolition under plans which would see a new office block provide approximately 21 per cent of extra floorspace and include shops and restaurants at ground level.

The Twentieth Century Society added: ‘Many examples of this prolific architect’s early work have been demolished in recent years, and this example shows the beginnings of the firm’s venture into more flamboyant styling with its distinctive pierced undulating roof feature.

‘It was the first building to hint at the South American influence of Felix Candela and Oscar Neimeyer . The projecting canopy at high level is a distinctive 1950s feature which Pevsner characterises as “a playful undulating pierced roof canopy in the Festival spirit”.

‘The site is a tight urban setting and follows the existing street patterns and building lines, it is hard to see how any replacement could offer any advantage in plot coverage or manage to significantly increase lettable floorspace.’

The development is currently being considered by Camden Council.

Derwent submitted plans for the site in April which would ’replace the existing three buildings of relatively dated and inefficient office accommodation, with a new building that will provide effi cient and attractive offi ce space with floor to ceiling heights that meet modern requirements and help future-proof the building’.

Derwent’s half-year figures showed that the firm posted a 69 per cent jump in pre-tax profits up to £371.4million up from £219.8million the previous year.

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