Renowned Brutalist architect Owen Luder has called for commemorative plaques to be removed from his award-winning office block in south-east London in protest at the building’s ‘disgraceful’ condition
Residents of Eros House in Catford, designed as offices by Luder in 1960 but later converted to 63 flats, have held a series of demonstrations over problems at the block including damp, heating and security.
Now Luder, 90, has called for the signs marking the building’s completion as well as awards from the RIBA and the Civic Trust, to be removed in protest at the deterioration of the block and its ‘terrible conversion’ into homes.
’The current building is not the one I designed and received those awards,’ he said.
The building is owned by private firm Quintana Global and managed by District Homes, and while some of the flats are rented privately, many are used by local authorities for use as temporary accommodation.
Lewisham Council, which is leasing 45 flats in Eros House, has faced protests by residents and the London Renter’s Union over the condition of the homes.
In November, a group of residents demonstrated outside the building, demanding action to fix the broken heating systems, solve issues with damp in the flat and other urgent safety repairs.
Luder said: ‘The council, working with what I believe is a connected company, have used many of the flats as temporary accommodation and allowed the building to deteriorate to a level where renters in the building have had to resort to public protest.
‘The condition the building has been allowed to get into is clearly disgraceful.’
In a recent statement, the council said it shared the residents’ aim of improving conditions at the block and accepted that the condition of the communal areas, including damp patches on the walls was ‘unacceptable’.
Luder said that as with many of his buildings from the 1960s and 1970s, the floor shape and structure of the buildings meant they were popular for residential conversions.
But while some have been successful – Luder named the transformation of one of his offices alongside Bromley North Station and a mid-60s block in Harrogate as ’sympathetic conversions’ -– the architect said Eros House’s conversion ‘destroyed the design integrity of the building’.
Luder said he feared Eros House would be demolished like many of his other buildings such as the Tricorn Centre in Portsmouth in 2004, Gateshead’s Trinity Square car park in 2010 and Derwent Tower in Gateshead in 2012.
According to Luder, there was a campaign to list the building in the 2000s but it was turned down.
Quintana Global, District Homes and Lewisham Council were approached for comment.