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Nicholas Hare’s controversial Barbican Estate school extension plans pulled

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Nicholas Hare Architects’ contentious plans to expand the City of London School for Girls within the listed Barbican complex have been shelved 

Residents claimed the proposals to extend its prep school including building an ‘infill’ canteen underneath one of the residential blocks would have been ‘a major threat to the architectural heritage’ of the Brutalist Barbican landmark.

The designs – a rethink of the school’s unpopular plan to build a new wing in an underground car park – faced immediate opposition from those living on the Grade II-listed estate when they were unveiled in May.

The school wanted to increase the size of its prep school from 730 to 826 pupils by building a dining hall and kitchen in the space beneath Mountjoy House, a 64-home terrace block supported on tall columns.

The plans also included a new building by the pool overlooking St Giles’ terrace and a proposal to build above one of its existing buildings to provide space for a new sixth form.

But critics argued that the ‘infill’ scheme (in blue, below) would block protected views, destroy ‘striking voids’ and obscure the piloti integral to Chamberlin, Powell and Bon’s design.

The Barbican Association subsequently launched a working group to campaign against the expansion, which it maintained set a ‘dangerous precedent’ for development and constitutes ‘a major threat to the architectural heritage of the estate.’

The association said the City of London Corporation, the owner of the fee-paying school, ’should not allow its commercial interests to take priority over both residential interests and Barbican architectural heritage’.

Crop clsg a1 panels web.170093897 77

Crop clsg a1 panels web.170093897 77

Sketch showing infill elements of the scheme (in blue)

Explaining the decision not to proceed with the latest plans, a spokesperson for the City of London Corporation said: ’The school is reviewing its educational needs as it builds a strategic plan for the next five to 10 years.

The governors have decided not to take the expansion plan further in its current form

‘In order to meet those needs, and mindful of advice from the City Corporation planners, the board of governors has decided not to take the expansion plan further in its current form. The need for an expansion remains, especially to provide much needed new STEM facilities, to maximise the educational experiences of the Prep pupils and to provide additional pastoral space’

The City of London Corporation added: ’The board of governors and senior team will now take some time to establish how best to meet the needs of the school.’

Nicholas Hare Architects hs been contacted for comment. 


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Readers' comments (1)

  • The saddest set of visuals for a proposal I've seen in a while. They obviously didn't want to do it - good on them!

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