Stockwell Street Development

Folks – I have just had the first concrete information about what’s to happen at the Stockwell Street site. The rumours that have been buzzing around about Greenwich University wanting to build a School of Architecture are indeed true – and they’ve set aside £60m to do it with.

They’ve not got very far – they haven’t even commissioned an architect yet – but they’re looking to build “an inspiring piece of contemporary architecture” As far as I can see – at least from their press release – they intend to consult with local people when they have something concrete (let’s hope it won’t be made out of concrete…)

I’m cautiously optimistic about this. Of course the weazle-word is always ‘consult’ – which means precisely nothing in real terms – consultation doesn’t mean they’ll actually listen to anything residents and businesses have to say, merely ask their opinion.

However, the university is an academic institution and although I don’t know this one, I am yet to come across an academic institution that doesn’t have a bunch of internal politics like a viper pit. However much the financial authorities will be trying to save cash, there will be people from within who will want to see a decent job done, aesthetically, locally and historically. The people who work in the university will, for the most part, actually live around here – and therefore have a vested interest in keeping the place nice (which, I’m afraid, another institution, based in The City and Portsmouth, may not…) And they must know that to have a school of architecture with a bad (new) building would be commercial suicide.

I will watch this with interest.

In the meanwhile it would seem that the reason the market’s been closed so early is that the university will be “carrying out preliminary investigations including archaeological digs, geological surveys and a study of land contamination. A programme of enabling works will include the removal of existing buildings on the site, many of which are in a poor state of repair.”

Those warehouse buildings were always doomed, and we can’t (and indeed shouldn’t) save everything. They are hardly architectural gems, and we can’t live in aspic. I’m sad to see one or two of them go (I hope they find a fitting home for the Geisha… and that lovely sign) but I’m very keen to find out what’s underneath all that concrete. Conversations I’ve been having with one or two Stockwell Street residents (and perusals of John Stone’s book) lead me to believe there is Stuff To Be Found.

So, one to keep a beady eye on…we’ll see…

Comments are closed.