The Conservation Area Advisory Committee has had some notable successes by being consulted at the early stages of development proposals – before the design has been fixed as a target to be achieved by the delivery team – and also by campaigning against proposals as they go through the consultation and planning process.
The Wellcome Institute
We met a number of times with Jim Eyre of Wikinson Eyre to discuss the addition of two new entrances to the facade of the Wellcome Institute on Euston Road. The architects’ solution to the problem addresses both the functional needs of the Institute and respects the syntax of the fine classical facade with new stone entablature and scrolls over the two revolving doors.
The British Museum Northwest Extension
We campaigned vigorously to have the bulk of the proposed extension reduced and to preserve the natural light to the beautiful Smirke Arched Reading Room and to the North staircase. We were partially successful in that the proposed building that would have blocked the focal end window of Smirke’s room was drastically lowered to allow light in and to preserve the views to the rear of the Bedford Square houses.
Nonetheless the materials and manner of the building now under construction are alien to such a sensitive location and the North Staircase, rear of the Edward VII Gallery and Arched Reading room are deprived of much of their natural light. The attached photo shows the dotted facade of the reading room which would have been completely covered by the proposed building ‘pavilion’. It also shows how the new building is wedged right into the gap in the original buildings depriving them of natural light.
The Strand Union Workhouse
Thanks to a campaign supported by the Bloomsbury Conservation Area Advisory Committee this important and rare survival of a Georgian workhouse was listed Grade II by the Heritage Minister and saved from demolition and redevelopment. The minister, John Penrose, had this to say of the building:
“This austere and imposing building is an eloquent reminder of one of the grimmer aspects of London’s 18th century social history. Some claim that it was the inspiration for the workhouse in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, but whether it was or it wasn’t, we know that it is the sole survivor of the workhouses that were operating in the capital when Dickens wrote his famous novel, and that as a young man he lived just nine doors along from it. It is undoubtedly an important and interesting part of our history and heritage, and deserves the extra protection that listing provides.”