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Museum of London Site Should be Retrofitted not Demolished says Heritage Group

Museum of London Site Should be Retrofitted not Demolished says Heritage Group
07 June 2023 | Updated 13 June 2023

Plans to build office blocks on the former Museum of London site have been criticised by campaign group Barbican Quarter Action, who say the existing building should be retrofitted instead.

The proposals to the London Wall West site include flexible, high-quality office spaces, new public spaces and improvements to walkways.

Barbican Quarter Action argue that the assertion that Bastion House is at risk of disproportionate collapse and thus not safe for retrofit and reuse is misleading. They commissioned two reports to show that the City of London’s London Wall West (LWW) proposal’s carbon assessment of the new project falls short as it does not consider the retention and retrofit of Bastion House and ignores the impact of its demolition on the scheme’s carbon footprint.

Simon Sturgis from Targeting Zero who co-authored the reports argues that “a more comprehensive retrofit approach than the one proposed, with Bastion House retained and retrofitted, would have far lower carbon emissions…”

The Museum of London has occupied the building on the edge of the Barbican for 47 years, and the site includes the 17-storey tower Bastion House.

The museum will move to a new site at West Smithfield, intending to open to the public as a visitor attraction in 2026.


City of London’s Carbon Assessment “Falls Short”


The LWW proposal states that “reuse of Bastion House is not considered feasible from an engineering perspective on account of the risk of disproportionate collapse which arises from the unique transfer structure and column design at level 3 of Bastion House” (WLCA 4.2.3).

Barbican Quarter Action’s reports demonstrate that only buildings using the Large Panel System of construction are at such risk and that Bastion House is not built using the LPS system.

Bob Stagg of Conisbee Structural Engineering reported that Bastion House and the Museum of London comply with all current building regulations and the buildings are in better condition than many other concrete buildings of that era. He also argues that the LWW team chose to consider and compare only two options: complete demolition and a part retention option – both of which include the demolition of Bastion House.

Shelagh Wright, part of Barbican Quarter Action told The Times newspaper: “Bastion House is a perfectly sound building. Why waste the carbon in knocking it down and building something new where there’s a building there that could be reused?”

In April 2023, the City of London Corporation announced that it would invite developers to explore retrofit options. That application period is now closed and it is as yet unknown if any alternative proposals were made.

Picture: a photograph of the Museum of London site at the western end of the London Wall. Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 07 June 2023


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