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Grade I listing proposed for Stirling's Cambridge faculty

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This still-controversial 1960s history faculty design at Cambridge University by James Stirling will be spot-listed Grade I, if the Twentieth Century Society has its way.

The society has asked the dcms to give a top listing to the building, praised for its monumental and sculptural qualities when it was built in 1968. Equally strong feelings, however, were held about alleged maintenance problems, such as heat gain.

The society made its surprise move when it heard that Cambridge was planning to make changes to the block, said casework officer Bronwen Edwards. These included replacing ramps and screens being used by skateboarders with landscape.

'It is such an outstanding building, even though it has had problems,' she said. 'Its inherited importance makes it worthwhile fixing the problems.' Edwards had no idea when the dcms would decide. 'It can take a few weeks or two years.'

Stirling's block has won praise from other quarters. Pevsner called the chamfered building with industrial glazing and red bricks an 'anti-composition' of violently pushed-together elements. It was a young man's answer to surroundings that could be seen as dainty. 'We must do away with beauty altogether. Don't be polite, be honest, even if it makes you brutal.' Stirling, he said, 'would leave an indelible mark on Cambridge, and people in 2068 will shake their heads at so much self-confidence.'

English Heritage has made a confidential recommendation to the dcms, which could not comment on its future decision. Cambridge University was unavailable for comment.

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