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Twentieth Century Society slams proposed Barbican turret conversion

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The Twentieth Century Society is objecting to plans by Mackay + Partners to convert a turret at the Barbican into a flat

The plans concern the John Wesley turret – also known as the Aldersgate turret – at the Grade II-listed, Chamberlin, Powell and Bon-designed Brutalist landmark.

The three-storey-high turret sits on the south-west side of the Barbican Arts Centre, which opened in 1982, and features tripartite arched windows, a pyramidal roof and concrete floor slabs.

Proposals for the two-bedroom flat include the insertion of windows, a mezzanine floor, and an external stairwell and entrance hall.

The Twentieth Century Society says it opposes the insertion of windows, external stairwell and entrance lobby because they would ‘disrupt the robust solidity of the building form’ and interfere with a surface that, in its view, should ‘be textured only by the materiality of the brick’.

The society also objects to the reflective glazing of the windows, saying it would disrupt the ‘perceived depth of the space and the darkness’ of the building.

In addition, it is against converting a public space – although it is not currently accessible – to a private one.

A similar scheme by CHA to convert the turret into a flat was rejected in 2008.

Tess Pinto, conservation adviser at the Twentieth Century Society, said: ‘Attitudes toward post-war architecture are constantly evolving and since 2008 there has been further work published on the importance of the Barbican, including a monograph as part of our Twentieth Century Architects series.

‘We hope that a wider understanding and appreciation of the estate will fortify the City of London in maintaining their decision of seven years ago, and that permission will be refused for this damaging scheme.’

Mackay + Partners principal Ken Mackay, alongside Tracey Wiles, a partner at Make Architects, previously converted the former Estate Office at the Barbican into a five-bedroom home for themselves and their family.

The house, which retained the original concrete pillars and walls, was featured in a music video for the song Silver & Gold (3’18) by hip-hop artists Sway and Akon.

It was previously listed as on sale for £4.5 million on The Modern House in 2015, before being listed with estate agent Stirling Ackroyd, but was withdrawn by Mackay in July. 

  • 2 Comments

Readers' comments (2)

  • Could you link the application I can't find it anywhere

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  • Chris Rogers

    Here you go:

    http://www.planning2.cityoflondon.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=OAV9KWFH02B00

    and click on the two 'Accompanying reports' at the end of the doucment list. It's a bit confusing as the applicants have submitted two very similar apps - I think the only difference is suggested window treatments but don't quote me. See also the Barbicantalk.com website, where lots of residents have commented.

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