I am concerned that my good friend Patrick Hodgkinson feels that the Twentieth Century Society has been 'going behind his back' on the matter of the Brunswick Centre. Members of our committee enjoyed an informative visit there with him last summer. We were impressed both by the quality of the building and by its rather forlorn condition, and we went away more determined than ever to work towards a satisfactory restoration programme.
It is true that the society subsequently supported the listing of the centre, which it considers to be a project of enormous power and imagination, a dynamic and challenging, if contentious, vision of urban living. And presumably, Hodgkinson shares that view.
However, listing does not imply no change. Indeed, one reason why listing was refused in the past was the fact that the centre was never completed as originally planned. While it is inconceivable that it could now be physically extended, the task remains of realising the true potential of the development, securing the right mix of uses and of public and private space, and a satisfactory approach to its management in the future. A degree of change is inevitable and desirable. It is very good news, after the failure of three previous rehabilitation schemes, that Hodgkinson is now involved with the centre. (Incidentally, in the light of the earlier, damaging proposals for alterations, Hodgkinson had ap-peared to favour listing!)
Surely, listing the centre would strengthen Hodgkinson's hand in ensuring that any changes which do occur are in sympathy with the architecture. Like any other architect, he is working in the context of a client's brief - which inevitably seeks to capitalise on commercial potential. The society will certainly maintain an open mind if and when sympathetic proposals are brought forward - but it remains unhappy with what it has seen so far.
Kenneth Powell, consultant director, the Twentieth Century Society, London EC1