Listing a building can be a nightmare for property owners and occupiers alike – but some buildings are so special that they need to be protected for future generations to experience. Whether they like what they see is irrelevant in my view – architecture is a personal thing. But what I do know is that completely demolishing our history (as they did in Nottingham when the Broad Marsh Centre was built in the 1970’s) is not a good thing.
So earlier this year when I saw that an industrial distribution building had been Grade II* listed I was really pleased….
I have to admit a love of this building, it was built in the early 1980’s in Swindon a town close to my family home in Wiltshire, so I have known it from its construction. It also featured briefly as a backdrop in a Bond movie (A view to a Kill), which gives you an idea of just how ‘out there’ it was when it was built. English Heritage say in their listing that it is ‘one of the very finest examples of a hi-tech building’.
The architect was Lord Foster, a man who has gone on to design some of the most iconic buildings in the World today – including the Gherkin, the Millennium Bridge and the rebuilding of Berlin’s Reichstag.
Built originally for Renault as their UK parts centre the 25,000 sq m building has had a chequered history since then – but it is now protected for the future which makes me very happy, it is just a shame that we have so few iconic commercial buildings in this country worth listing…..