Off with its head!
By Chris Rogers, Mar 16 2021 06:04PM
The intended height of the courthouse in the planned City of London Law Courts scheme has been reduced by over a metre. Both the Victorian Society and Heritage England have lodged objections to the size and scale of the new building, but it seems to have been complaints about the reduction of daylight to the flats opposite the court that swung the axe.
Actually the old Daily Telegraph building sits immediately across the street, but it wasn’t the bankers that cried foul. Instead it was the owners and occupier of the apartments in the upper levels of the buildings to its west, a nicely varied run of narrow, period frontages of the sort that typify the Street, that stood up to be counted. As a result of some detailed analysis, the parapet of the courthouse has been lowered by 1.2 metres and two rooftop elements of the massing of the block have been cut back to lessen the impact, as shown above.
The amenity societies’ criticism is quite trenchant, saying “The proposed new buildings entirely fail to reflect the characteristic scale and grain of the historic built environment” and that its “articulation is weak, and does nothing to reduce the impression of overbearing monumental bulk”. I hate to say I told you so, but… They are also both unhappy at the proposed loss of historic fabric, namely the demolition of all of the existing buildings along the Fleet Street side of the site and some in Salisbury Square.
As it happens there are rumblings down below, too, with the owners of the building to the south east of the overall development objecting to the proximity of the commercial block to theirs and the servicing arrangements, which would have required them to fall in with the shared basement. The building lines have been adjusted and a new access point created, separate from that supporting the court, police and office development itself.
Chris's first book examines the career and works of British architect Michael Pearson, the third generation to head the practice founded by his grandfather in 1904. Pearson's presidency of the Architectural Association and his pioneering and prescient Burne House building are covered.
"Throws light on significant achievements"
– Patrick Duerden, Practice Director, Donald Insall
Black Dog Publishing, 2010
ISBN 978 1 906155 73 5
Become an architectural detective with Chris's second book, investigating the styles of a thousand years of building in the world's most visited city from the middle ages to the present day. Illustrated and with photographs, maps and addresses, also included are a list of resources and a two-part introduction.
"A little gem"
– Terry Philpot, Tablet
Ivy Press, 2016 with Larousse (French edition) and Akal (Spanish)
ISBN 978 1 78240 406 4
Chris's third book - a publisher's best-seller - reveals the hidden gems as well as the iconic landmarks of London's rich built history, from shops that survived the Great Fire to the 2012 Olympic village. Covering the West End, City and Docklands, the book follows the same format as How to Read Paris.
– Don Brown, The London Society
Ivy Press, 2017
ISBN 978 1 782404 52 1
Chris is one of more than a dozen specialists whose essays fill this fresh examination of the charms of Paris, which is edited by John Flower. Looking at the French capital's history, culture and districts, each item can be read in just half a minute and is illustrated with its own collage-style spread.
Ivy Press, 2018
ISBN 978 1 782405 44 3
Commissioned from Chris by the Chief Magistrate for England & Wales to mark the closure of Bow Street Magistrates' Court, this pamphlet celebrates the world-famous institution and its final home. It was given exclusively to guests at a commemorative reception.
"I really like both the research behind it, and its clarity and accessibility"
– Susan Acland-Hood, Chief Executive, Her
Majesty's Courts & Tribunals Service
Private press, 2006
The Twentieth Century Society’s new peer-reviewed Journal on commercial architecture in Britain since the 1920s includes Chris’s piece on Fitzroy Robinson's pioneering atrium buildings in the City of London. The piece is founded in original research including archive imagery, interviews and site visits.
Twentieth Century Society, 2020
ISBN 978 0 955668 76 0