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Anger over ORMS’ plans to revamp Broadgate ‘folly’

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Plans by ORMS to overhaul No 3 Broadgate – a cylindrical oddity in the heart of the 1980s London office complex – have come under fire from critics 

The Twentieth Century Society said it was ‘shocked by the proposal’ to create a marketing suite and coffee shop in the structure. This would see the Arup Associates-designed pavilion stripped back to its frame, reclad it and have a larger arch inserted.

Objecting to the plans, which were lodged with the City of London last month, a spokesperson for the society said: ‘No 3 Broadgate is, in a way, a Postmodern folly building, object-like and mysterious, a sentinel between Broadgate Square and Finsbury Avenue Square beyond.

‘These works would drastically alter this exceptional building beyond recognition. Members considered that the gaudy, rippling metal cladding would not only have an extremely harmful impact on the existing non-designated heritage asset, but would also conflict aggressively with the wider setting which contains the Grade II-listed 1 Finsbury Avenue, a sleek and refined High-Tech office building.’

Bennetts Associates co-founder Rab Bennetts, who was one of the original Arup Associates team on the Finsbury Avenue buildings, led by architect Peter Foggo, was scathing of the proposal.

‘I hate to criticise the work of professional colleagues but this is a truly awful proposal,’ he said. ‘It would be better to knock it down than pretend this is somehow improving what’s left of a seminal development.

‘Better still, why not keep the existing form and simply upgrade the pristine cladding to current standards?’

He added: ‘There are various opinions as to how successful the facades were, but there is no doubt that Peter Foggo’s overall composition of the public realm was masterful. No 3 Broadgate is a cylindrical sculpture within the public realm and is a pivotal artefact that resolves the contrast of stone and bronzed cladding of the two adjoining developments. It is also a moment of compression in the townscape that allows a degree of discovery, by narrowing the gaps between the major squares.

‘No building is beyond improvement, but this proposal turns a serious piece of late Modernism into something trivial.’

The existing building has not been used since 2013. According to the planning application, the proposal would ‘refresh the appearance’ of the pavilion, providing a ‘softer counterpoint to the surrounding commercial buildings’ with a ‘more sculptural and playful facade’.

Both ORMS and project backer British Land declined to comment.

Comment

Peter Rees, former chief planning officer at the City of London 
‘I fought to save this small pavilion when the adjoining site was redesigned by Make, for occupation by UBS.

‘My justification for retention was that it is an important punctuation mark between Broadgate Circus and Finsbury Avenue Square – two of the fine spaces in Peter Foggo’s masterplan.

‘Maybe punctuation should change with the times and a 20th-century semi-colon can be transformed into a 21st-century forward slash. I wonder what the 21st Century Society would have to say?’

 

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Readers' comments (2)

  • chris Dyson

    This is original building is quiet and delightful, admired for its town scape merits as it does, marking to two significant urban spaces, creating an element of surprise, and entrance into each square.

    The archway evokes a long tradition of archways/gatehouses around the city of London.

    Surely it is better to maintain the existing pure form, which compliments the masterplan and the surroundings without competing and upgrade the building?

    ...Perhaps its glazing could be clear, but then that would beg the obvious question – what would one see through it? - hopefully not desks, messy boxes and legs!

    This gem of a townscape building requires careful thought and consideration for its locale…

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  • Chris Rogers

    I read the plans and the C20 objection letter - it's all online. Have to say I never knew the little thing had a lift, stairs loos and so much space. It's cute but in the context of the updated image Broadgate now has, like it or not, is unlikely to be defensible. Would make a fab house as is!

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