Milton Court a monstrocity or a lost jewel on Barbican’s crown?

27 Jun
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was browsing today and was made aware that Milton Court, at the edge of The Barbican in London is about to be redeveloped.

Modernist architecture has had a very rough ride in the UK from most of last century. Especially in the aftermath of the dreadful social housing that used Modernist language without the philosophical and ideological background. 

Milton Court was built in 1965 as a support building to the main Barbican Centre. It was not listed unlike the Centre and a few years ago all leftover residents were bought out of their flats and it has been lying empty read to be redeveloped, here’s the proposed plan on the Corporation of London’s website: http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/Corporation/media_centre/files2006/City+selects+preferred+Milton+Court+developer.htm

Here are some more links that relate to the campaign to save Milton Court on the debate about its architectural merit:

The BBC’s website:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/6222792.stm

CABE’s website with an elevation plan: http://www.cabe.org.uk/default.aspx?contentitemid=1925&refid=0&sl=

Advocates of Milton Court have put together a website to try and save it: http://www.miltoncourt.org/  (website now defunct) and also the 20th Centrury Society is advocating the building: http://riskybuildings.c20society.org.uk/docs/08milton/index.html

 CABE seems not to be too impressed by the quality of the proposed development

“We do not think that the architecture in this case is of sufficient quality to make a positive contribution to its immediate and wider setting.” 

 The objections of CABE are higlighting a major problem when developers are brought in to built mixed use development for public bodies. On one hand they have to keep their clients happy by fullfilling the brief even in the expense of the design. And also trying to deliver it to a predetermined price point and make enough money for the architectural practise and the contractor. Unfortunately this kind of development very rarely produces good architecture. And in this instance the Corporation of London should be thinking more about how to make a interesting contribution to the London skyline than how to self-finance the new theatre for the Guildhall School of Music by selling the flats in the new development. 

Let’s hope that reason will prevail and maybe a sensitive redevelopment will incorporate the original building.

Addendum

The building was demolished in 2008, a great shame but developers have won once more.

(the also, ironically, now defunct) CABE approved the new design after three review panels

Some images of the site after demolition

and a PDF on the contractor’s website

The erected building has been named The Herron, here is their home page with all the sales patter.

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