London landmark demolition halted as counterplans proposed

At an event which occurred this week, a leading architect proposed plans to retrofit a 1960s London building instead of it being torn to the ground.

Simon Sturgis and Victorian Society president, Griff Rhys Jones, took to the stand at a Save Museum Street campaign event this week where MBH Architects exposed counterplans to the proposed demolition of Selkrik House – a 17-storey former Travelodge hotel near the British Museum. 

Big Ben, London

The plans, which were presented in the form of a 22-page document signed by more than two dozen groups, details ideas to retrofit the building to provide new office space, homes and a rooftop garden and tourist information point.  

Plans to create new homes for Londoners would be largely accepted as the cost-of-living continues to squeeze budgets and it has been recently reported that rates of homelessness within the capital city have hit new highs.

The project, which is being leg by Jim Monahan, also envisions new shops, a courtyard, recladding and a reduction of the current height by 3m.

One of the reasons for wanting to retrofit the site is that Sturgis has argued it would take half the time to complete. At the moment current plans are set to take around four years, but architects claim this could only take two.

Alongside this, Sturgis also challenged DSDHA, an architect landscape and research studio who want to demolish the building, plans’ with RIBA, local authority, and national climate targets to meet net zero by 2050 – as the building was constructed in the 1960s it is likely that it will contain some hazardous materials such as lead paint and/or asbestos which seriously affect air pollution levels when a building is torn down.

At the event, Sturgis said: ‘This particular scheme for this site is way outside of that [net zero by 2050 goal] and, interestingly enough, I think it’s even worse than anything that was proposed in Oxford Street by Pilbrow & Partners for Marks & Spencer.’

Last year Pilbrow and Partners proposed plans to demolish the well-known supermarket chain and replace it with a 10-storey office block. If this plan had gone ahead, the new build Marks & Spencer would have released around 40,000 tones of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Sturgis added that the plan ‘fails in terms of Greater London Authority targets; it fails in terms of RIBA targets; so it is a sort of dismal effort to provide something positive for London.’

Following MBH Architects counterproposal yesterday, no date has been set for Camden Council to decide on DSDHA’s plans.  

Image: Lucas Davies


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