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Fast-track listing sought for Grimshaw’s Waterloo terminal

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The Twentieth Century Society has submitted an urgent bid to have Grimshaw’s mothballed Waterloo International Terminal Grade II* listed, to ensure plans to reopen the building respect its integrity

The snaking steel-and-glass structure was completed in 1993 and served as the London terminal for Eurostar services to Paris and Brussels until they transferred to St Pancras International in 2007.

Infrastructure operator Network Rail is planning to reopen the terminal’s five platforms to domestic services to increase capacity at Waterloo. It is proposing a range of remodelling work, which it says does not require planning permission because the building’s external appearance will not be affected.

The Twentieth Century Society says the proposals would extensively remodel the lower levels of Waterloo International, ‘stripping out the original bespoke features, and inserting a new roof’ to span the gap between the Grimshaw extension and the rest of Waterloo’s concourse.

It said a Grade II* listing for the building, which was named the RIBA President’s Building of the Year in 1994 and won the Mies van der Rohe Award for European Architecture, would allow Network Rail’s changes to be properly scrutinised.

Conservation adviser Tess Pinto said the significance of the terminal lay in its entirety.

‘Less visible to passers-by, but just as impressive, is the vast concrete substructure underneath, which contains dedicated arrival and departure levels and a car-park,’ she said.

‘It is a high-tech gesamtkunstwerk, where almost every detail of the interior was architect-designed right down to handrails, uplighters and bathroom sinks.

‘We recognise that alterations will need to be made in order to bring the terminal back into use.

‘However, these should be conservation led, as with the highly successful St Pancras restoration, where works were robustly justified and undertaken with close attention to everything that makes the original building special.

‘We are calling for Grade II* listing so that the alterations will take into account the undoubted significance of this world-class building.’

She added: ‘Waterloo is a definitive work in the oeuvre of Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, and a key example of British High-Tech design.

‘In addition to its architectural quality, the building is of unique importance for its unprecedented historic role in international rail travel.’

At present, only the original Waterloo Station’s Victory Arch and steps have listed status, at Grade II. A previous bid to list the whole of the station – including the Grimshaw terminal – was unsuccessful.

Pinto said she believed it was potentially possible for Historic England to rapidly process the latest bid because of the wealth of background detail already in its possession.

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