A controversial multi-million-pound overhaul of Terry Farrell’s Postmodern TV-am headquarters in Camden, London, has been described as ‘mind-deadening’ by fans of the building
Sean Griffiths of FAT said the structure was a ‘crucial piece’ of UK history, and claimed replacing the 1983 building’s sunrise archway and keystone with a new facade was as bad as ‘knocking down the Euston Arch’.
He said: ‘What is being proposed is yet another example of polite, boring, mind-deadening corporate managerial Modernism, of the kind that is sucking the life out of London’s cityscape.’
The building was purpose-built for the early-morning broadcaster and famously features 12 large plastic egg cups on its roof, which will be retained. After TV-am shut down in 1993, the building was bought by MTV, whose owner Viacom International Media Networks now wants to create a new base for the station featuring a green wall and colourful metal cladding. The project is due to complete in late 2012.
A Twentieth Century Society spokesperson said: ‘The decision to effectively eliminate this iconic building could not be more acutely controversial.’
The campaign group said the centre belonged to ‘the very first generation of Postmodern architecture in Britain’ and urged Viacom to ‘rethink these ill-conceived plans’. The society admitted it had failed to campaign for its listing.
However, Farrell said he was ‘fairly relaxed’ about the alterations. ‘The building was only meant to last seven years.’
Historian and postmodern architecture critic Charles Jencks said: ‘Getting an unknown architect to do the dirty on someone is not on. Terry Farrell needs an apology.
‘Don’t tear it all down, deal with it. It’s not a sophisticated post modernisation and it could have been. They should have asked Terry Farrell to do it or at least [asked him] to chat with the people who did it. Erasure is not in the spirit of the game, but creative reinterpretation is.’
Architecture critic Jonathan Glancey added: ‘I’m amazed that TV-am lasted so long, but it’s a great shame it has been replaced with something so lacklustre. The new design is very, very dull.
BBC Look North presenter and TV-am museum owner Ian White said: ‘We were aware of the plans to transform the Camden complex but were not expecting the whole of the front of the building to be changed so dramatically. It’s certainly the end of an era.’