Debate Magazine

Listed Buildings

Posted on the 20 September 2013 by Markwadsworth @Mark_Wadsworth
From the BBC
A yellow-roofed warehouse in Swindon that featured in a James Bond film has been given Grade II*-listed status.

The Spectrum building, Renault's former distribution centre, was designed by Lord Norman Foster and opened in 1982.

Featuring yellow steel "umbrella masts", the futuristic single-storey glass-walled building was also used as a backdrop in A View To A Kill in 1984.

Roger Bowdler, from English Heritage, said it was "one of the very finest examples of a hi-tech building".

Famous for his steel and glass designs, Lord Foster created the Gherkin and Millennium Bridge in London, rebuilt Berlin's Reichstag and also Hong Kong Airport.
The building saw the last of the car manufacturer's workers move out when Renault closed its operations there in 2001.
Since then, the 25,000 sq m building has housed a car seat manufacturer, a soft indoor play center and a firm that produces DVDs.

... and a car dealership. Since 2001. Get the message?
One of the things about buildings is that they're often very hard to repurpose. Look at the Olympics - we're burning £100m+ on converting it from an athletics stadium to a football stadium. Sometimes, you can take a building and make it work for something else (like the EMI CD production building in Swindon that is now a car dealership), but it's often quite difficult. Which is why you need people to be able to either take large chunks out of them, or just knock them down and build something new in their place.
And one of the problems with buildings that could be classified as "modern wank" is that they're not only self-indulgent by the people creating and commissioning them, they're also not very practical. Even the early users often find them a bit crap, but repurposing them and maintaining them is even worse because of irregular use of materials and shapes. Once you list them, this is only going to get worse.
So, give it a decade, this will be probably be like so many listed buildings - empty, with the owners praying for a fire to destroy it so they can put something useful in its place.

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