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C20 Society demands Balfron Tower rethink

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The Twentieth Century Society has called for the scrapping of plans by Studio Egret West and Ab Rogers to revamp Erno Goldfinger’s Balfron Tower after its listing was upgraded

Earlier this month, heritage watchdog Historic England lifted the east London tower block’s listed status from grade II to grade II*.

In the wake of this decision, the Society has called on the London Borough of Tower Hamlets to re-assess the proposals in their entirety, and either refuse the current scheme or secure major modifications.

Catherine Croft, Director of Twentieth Century Society said: ‘We strongly urge the applicants to rethink their scheme and celebrate this building by enhancing its special qualities rather than seeking to “transform it”.’

‘With the current resurgence of interest in post-war buildings, there has never been a better time to work with the architecture rather than against it. The current proposals require a rethink and a conservation led approach.’

The planning application would replace chunky white timber windows with dark brown aluminium frames.

The society also complains that original hard finishes like the quarry tiles in access corridors would be lost, and the plan form of the building would be changed. It said the proposed changes were ‘dramatic and unjustified’ and would harm the character and appearance of the building and the wider estate within which it sits.

In an interview with Architects’ Journal last week, Christophe Egret, founding partner at Studio Egret West, told the Architects’ Journal that conservation was at the heart of the designs.

He said: ‘The criticism has been frustrating and I can only assume it comes from people not having the full facts in front of them.
‘Our work has been immensely sensitive. It is in keeping with the original.’

Read Ab Rogers’ full explanation of the practice’s proposals here.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • It's hard to understand why the revamp involves altering the tower's appearance by drastic change to the style of the windows rather than sympathetic renewal.
    This leads to the suspicion that the designers' desire to make their mark on the building is in direct conflict with respect for its existing character.

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