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City backs contentious ORMS plans to revamp Broadgate ‘folly’

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The City of London has approved contentious plans by ORMS to overhaul No 3 Broadgate – a cylindrical oddity in the heart of the 1980s London office complex 

Last month The Twentieth Century Society hit out at the planning application, which was recently rubberstamped under delegated powers, saying it was ‘shocked’ by the proposal to create a marketing suite and coffee shop in the structure.

The scheme by the AJ100 practice will see the Arup Associates-designed pavilion stripped back to its frame, reclad and with a larger arch inserted.

Objecting to the plans, which were lodged with the City of London last month, a spokesperson for the society said the works would ‘drastically alter this exceptional building beyond recognition’, adding that its members thought ‘the gaudy, rippling metal cladding [would] conflict aggressively with the wider setting which contains the Grade II-listed 1 Finsbury Avenue’.

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, had also condemned 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.’

Responding to the decision to approve the scheme, Twentieth Century Society conservation adviser Tess Pinto added: ‘It’s hugely depressing. We are losing our finest modern buildings before we have time to properly appreciate and understand them.’

The existing building, which was described by former chief planning officer at the City of London Peter Rees as an ‘important punctuation mark between Broadgate Circus and Finsbury Avenue Square’ has lain empty 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’.

A spokesperson for project backer British Land said: ’British Land and [investor] GIC are delighted to have received planning permission from the City of London Corporation for a refurbishment of 3 Broadgate which will become the new marketing suite for the Broadgate campus.

’The proposed coated metal tile façade includes a three storey-tall archway, creating a new gateway to encourage people to walk through the building rather than around it, further opening up the routes between Broadgate Circle and Finsbury Avenue Square.

’A small coffee kiosk will also be incorporated on the ground floor fostering enlivenment in the building. In line with the broader investment already underway, the creation of a modern marketing suite is part of a wider strategic plan being implemented at Broadgate, in response to the broader range of businesses wanting to take space at the 30 acre campus.’

Work is expected to complete on the scheme by the end of 2018.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Chris Rogers

    Cute though the existing building is - and I must admit I had no idea it has two stories, loos, kitchen and lifts - it's hard to defend the proposal in the new context of 5 Broadgate.

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