Twentieth Century (C20) Society founder Simon Jenkins has criticised the group’s bid to save Basil Spence’s Hyde Park Barracks from demolition and described Francis Terry’s Classical alternative as ‘lovely’
The Evening Standard columnist and National Trust chair said the listing bid was ‘simply outrageous’ because it could potentially block a ‘lovely’ Classical alternative designed by Francis Terry, who is among a number of bidders for the prime, west London site.
The writer – who is based near Spence’s 1976 Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall – said: ‘I don’t mind listing “distinctive” historic buildings, but listing ugly and prominent ones is perverse, especially if it stops lovely ones from going up.’
He continued: ‘I have to endure Spence’s awful Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall next door to me. It is an offence against the streetscape.’
Around 20 teams are thought to be competing to buy the west London landmark which is expected to be replaced with new apartments overlooking Hyde Park.
Terry is working with developer Bruce Rippon on plans to replace the barracks with an enormous classically-styled residential block. Dixon Jones is also working on a rival bid with property developer Cheval.
In support of Terry’s replacement scheme, Jenkins said: ‘A city is always an agglomeration of styles, but the most tritely “traditional” at present is the Corb and Meis 1980s revivalism. The noblest revivals are always classical and gothic and [Terry’s] is in that admirable tradition.’
The C20 Society has described the Brutalist complex – featuring a 33-storey residential tower – as an ‘intelligent solution to a very complicated brief’ worthy of listing.
In the coming weeks English Heritage will either endorse the society’s listing application or rule in favour of a rival application from an unnamed party for immunity from listing.
Commenting on the society’s listing bid, Jenkins added: ‘They will back any modernist building, the uglier and more concrete the better.’
The 1970 Brutalist complex has been home to the Household Cavalry since 1795 but is now being sold by Ministry of Defence.
The C20 Society was set up by Jenkins and others including Gavin Stamp, Alan Powers, and Marcus Binney nine years after the barracks completed.
The organisation was originally called the Thirties Society but was renamed in 1992 in recognition of its post-war conservation work.