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Coventry's 'elephant' pool under threat of demolition

Coventry’s Grade-II listed central swimming pool could be knocked down under council redevelopment plans

As part of the city’s sports strategy, the authority is proposing the construction of a new leisure centre in the city centre ‘that will include a 25 metre pool, a water park with slides, fitness suite, climbing wall, squash courts and spa’.

Under the plans, which were launched for public consultation last week, the current building in Fairfax Street will close once this new sports centre has been built.

The original 50m pool building was completed in 1966 to designs by Arthur Ling at Coventry City Council’s architecture department and is Grade II-listed.

However, the adjoining extension by city architect Harry Noble which opened in 1977 is not. The so-called ‘elephant building’, which was designed to reflect the city’s emblem, could be demolished following construction of the new centre.

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Consultation on the strategy has now begun and runs for the next six weeks.

Comment

Frazer Bufton, course director for architecture at Coventry University

‘It would be a shame to see the loss of one of Coventry’s most iconic buildings and although I am sure all of the necessary due diligence has been done, it seems difficult to reconcile the demolition and rebuilding of this building against the cultural cost of its loss to Coventry’s post war architectural heritage.

‘The energy and enthusiasm with which Coventry is attempting to regenerate its urban fabric is commendable and there are some exciting proposals which look set to be realised - including the Friargate scheme by Allies and Morrison and Gross.Max centered around Coventry’s railway station, but the city would do well not to repeat the mistakes of Birmingham, where it is arguable that the loss of the existing Central Library and some of it’s best but unfashionable brutalist buildings, in the name of regeneration, may be considered a tragedy by future generations.’

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