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Another Grimshaw building in listing wrangle

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Nicholas Grimshaw has backed calls to protect his 1988 former Financial Times printworks in London’s Poplar after the owner applied for a certificate of immunity from listing

Data storage firm Global Switch, which now operates out of the building, says that a five-year immunity from listing would allow it to refurbish or upgrade the ‘High-tech’ structure.

But Grimshaw, chairman of Grimshaw Architects, is supporting a call from the Twentieth Century Society to give it statutory heritage protection instead. It is understood Historic England has already begun assessing the immunity application.

The building, with its pioneering structural glazing system designed to allow uninterrupted views of the inside, is the latest of the architect’s works to be considered for listing in the last few months. In July his 1993 ‘Ship’ building in Plymouth was handed a Grade II* listing (AJ 23.07.15) and Historic England is currently considering his Oxford Ice Rink for protection (AJ 19.10.15).

Talking about the printworks, Grimshaw told the AJ: ‘In my view East India Dock House is a well built, innovative project that at the time pioneered various materials and construction techniques.

‘It represents one of the earliest uses of vacuum-formed aluminium panels, and the facade of the building utilised a curtain-wall system which eliminated the use of mullions.

‘The scheme was designed as a “shop window” revealing the dynamic activities of the printing press traditionally hidden from view, and the fact it has metamorphosed to a computer switching centre is testament to its inherent flexibility.’

Henrietta Billings, senior conservation advisor at the Twentieth Century Society, said: ‘This building broke the mould for shed design – it demonstrated that you could build a beautiful industrial building on a tight budget and timescale.

‘It is head and shoulders above other similar buildings of the time.’

Grimshaw_FT_Jo_Reid_and_John_Peck

A spokeswoman for Global Switch said: ‘The reason for the application is to ensure that, if in the future, Global Switch wished to refurbish or update the plant and equipment that supports the building in its present use – for example to install new energy-saving technologies – a certificate of immunity from listing would likely be required by the local council.

‘Global Switch wishes to ensure that this landmark building retains its relevance for our existing and future customers.’

  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • Come on, Mr Grimshaw - we live in a time of change.
    Why not give the whole of London a certificate of immunity from conservation?
    Think of the money to be made from flattening everything and rebuilding to double the height (infinitely more on the school playing fields) with a set percentage of the profit going to the ruling political party and the rest being efficiently laundered offshore?

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