The profession responds to Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt’s decision not to list Arup Associates’ Broadgate Square campus in the City of London
Ken Shuttleworth of Make, the architect behind the scheme which will see No.4 and 6 Broadgate flattened: ‘This is really good news for the City of London - it sends out a message that it is a place for business. If the City had suddenly become ‘locked up’ like Paris or Florence you end up having to build outside the centre and the place loses vitality.
‘Our scheme would only be changing two buildings and - although we are jumping up the scale to that of Bishopsgate - it does not affect the rest of Broadgate. The squares will be there for all time, nobody wants to build say in the middle of Finsbury Square. Broadgate is about the essence of the masterplan with buildings that can be replaced over time. Nos 4 and 6 are not the greatest buildings and to list a whole chunk of the City seems completely wrong.’
Rab Bennetts, who work under Peter Foggo at Arup Associates before setting up Bennetts Associates: ‘The Government was never going to support anything that restricted development within London’s financial district, unless it was the most exceptional building that was up for listing. No surprises, therefore, but it is a pity the debate became so polarised. It would have been good to see a serious examination of the replacement building alongside a more balanced appreciation of Peter Foggo’s work. Perhaps this is something that will now be possible.’
Richard Simmons, former chief executive of CABE: ‘Broadgate is a fine composition but the City of London has traditionally changed its form to deal with commercial innovation, so this was never going to be an easy call.
It’s the right decision for the City, but I share the sense of loss for the original unity of Broadgate’s design
Change is an important part of the heritage there. Jeremy Hunt is elected to make the call and he’s acted with commendable promptness. MAKE’s building isn’t perfect but it’s no slouch either. On balance it’s the right decision for the City, but I share the sense of loss for the original unity of Broadgate’s design.’
Phil Doyle, director of 5Plus Architects: ‘The non-listing is the right decision. You don’t list a building just because you don’t like what’s going to replace it. Instead you try to approve something that’s going to be better.’
A spokesman for English Heritage, which had recommended the campus for Grade II* listing: ‘We are of course disappointed that the Secretary of State has declined our recommendation to list Broadgate Square, but we respect his decision and welcome the public debate that the case has prompted.
There has been some suggestion that listing stunts investment or creates ‘streetscape museums’. This is to entirely misinterpret the purpose and effect of listing. Listing is a marker of special architectural and historic interest and ensures an appropriate balance is struck between the desirability of keeping that interest and the need for change. Every year, consent is given for change and adaptation to thousands of listed buildings. It would have been entirely possible to consider significant alteration to the inherently flexible Broadgate Square buildings while enabling the original scheme’s intrinsic qualities to shine as an exemplar of commercial development in the City. The retention and adaptation of the buildings would of course been the sustainable option.
In any city, change is vital to success. Broadgate Square may not be everyone’s idea of heritage, but every decade has its architectural high points, and the 1980s are no different. The timeline for assessing our built environment moves on, and we will increasingly be asked to consider buildings of the 1980s for listing. As with all listing cases, we will apply our usual rigorous approach to identify the very best and most representative buildings of the decade.’