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Campaigners urge listing of demolition-threatened West London College building


Campaigners have demanded heritage protection for an education building in Hammersmith threatened with demolition

The West London College Action group has lodged a formal application with Historic England to list the Gliddon Road structure near Barons Court Tube station. The building was designed by Bob Giles for the Greater London Council in the 1960s and completed in 1980 (see AJ 10.12.80).

Building owner Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College appointed Atkins last summer to design a replacement college on the site as part of a £500 million mixed-use redevelopment.

Preliminary planning documents were submitted to Hammersmith and Fulham Council earlier this year proposing demolition of all existing buildings and construction of a seven-storey college alongside seven apartment blocks.

The action group said: ‘We want to see this impressive example of Modernist architecture preserved and properly maintained as a going concern.

‘It remains an uncompromisingly modern building – some would even say Brutalist in style. But the central massing of the buildings and their stepped design, receding gradually from both the Talgarth Road and Gliddon Road boundaries in a series of gently graded levels and curves, was carefully designed to minimise any appearance of bulk or overwhelm to the surrounding neighbourhood.’

Twentieth Century Society head of casework Clare Price said the heritage body ’strongly supports’ the listing application.

‘We consider Hammersmith and West London College to be one of the few remaining high-quality Greater London Council buildings of its era, in an excellent setting of varied levels, plazas and delightful landscaping,’ she said. 

Giles himself has written to Historic England supporting the listing of his building.

‘While the architecture may be worthy of listing in itself, the building also remains an increasingly rare example of the work of the Greater London Council architects department in the field of education,’ he said in a submission. ’Many of the department’s buildings of the late 60s and 70s have been lost.’

Historic England said it hoped to consult on the listing application this month. This process usually gives interested parties three weeks to comment on the proposal before Historic England makes a recommendation to the culture secretary, who generally makes a final decision within a further two weeks.

Atkins’ proposed scheme would see the creation of an ‘education quarter’ featuring a replacement college alongside an institute of technology and a free school. 

Atkins has been contacted for comment, as has Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College.

Bob Giles'  building on Gliddon Road for West London College

Bob Giles’ building on Gliddon Road for West London College

Source: Image by Chmee2 

Bob Giles’ building on Gliddon Road for West London College



Readers' comments (8)

  • Assuming that this building isn't falling apart it's difficult to understand how local government can justify destroying such a substantial asset - particularly at a time when it's increasingly difficult to fulfil even its most basic of duties.

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  • I strongly support the listing of this building!

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  • This is a wonderful building with insightful nods to its Hammersmith location. Lets get it listed.

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  • Phil Parker

    Who are these action groups?

    Why keep this building? It’s ridiculous groups such as this should impose their view on the physical environment. If they like the building that much form another group and buy it. That way they can preserve it for evermore.

    If not prepared to do this, I suggest action groups keep their opinions to themselves.

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  • MacKenzie Architects

    This development was built at a time when there was presumably less pressure on land-use (plot density), and the existing buildings have very pleasant open spaces surrounding which now appear very tempting to steal in central London.
    If the College can't find land elsewhere to expand -and at what cost- what are they supposed to do. Maybe when the student loans system collapses, they, along with countless other further education establishments, will find they cannot fill the student places, but at this point it is probably expand or wither.
    Maybe the existing layouts could be imaginatively used, but maybe the client and architect have no appetite for that or have checked it out.

    One would hope that our current level of culture would seek to adapt or re-use free good-quality building stock economically and also cherish the best examples of the past, but we are a very confused society these days, so there are no clear guidelines. Maybe we are in for a century of destruction, we probably are.

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  • I join in support of protecting this building, which I knew well.

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  • The incentive to demolish & rebuild is nothing to do with the need to expand the FE facilities, as the proposed replacement college building would not offer increased are. It is everything to do with land values in the area and the ever escalating prices that housing can fetch, often bought by buy to let or buy to leave non-doms.
    I fully support the listing application for this fine design. The disposition of the building on the site offers generous but secluded, well-treed, courtyard break-out spaces for students and staff, which I am sure must promote a harmonious social life within the college (to be lost in the proposed redev). Particularly admirable is the way the changes of level at entrances are handled, so that the ambulant and the disabled can follow the same routes in what are approaches simultaneously grandiose and informal.
    The restricted pallet of material, with the robust terracotta engineering brick walling and a paver of matching clay, has stood up well to the test of time, despite the clear parsimony the college has exercised in the vital area of day-to-day maintenance.

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  • Arguments such as "land in cities is under increasing pressure" and "action groups should keep their opinions to themselves" are wholly antithetical to the ethos and Parliamentary democracy governing UK planning. That values objectively assessing and preserving the nation's architectural heritage above personal, political or financial interests. Mocking and dismissing those values is the road to national oblivion.

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