Many iconic examples of iconic 20th century architecture have been knocked down in the UK, and many more are threatened by alteration or demolition.

From The Tricorn Centre in Portsmouth to Birmingham Central Library, we have created a beautifully illustrated tribute to Britain's lost post-war gems, as a way of remembering this important part of our heritage.

The Tricorn Centre, Portsmouth 
1966 - 2004
The Tricorn Centre was designed by the Owen Luder Partnership and was officially opened in 1966. When viewed from the air, the shape of the site resembled a tricorn hat, hence the building’s name. Although numerous attempts were made to get the building listed and protected, it was demolished in 2004.

Pimlico Secondary School, London
1970 - 2010
Built between 1967-1970, Pimlico Secondary School was constructed of unadorned concrete and glass, and won several architecture awards. Despite fierce opposition, the decision to demolish it was made and executed by mid-2010.

Birmingham Central Library
1974 - 2016
Designed by John Madin and finished in 1974, this was Birmingham’s main public library for almost 40 years, and the largest municipal library in Europe when built. Despite having been called a symbol of social progressivism, attempts to gain listed status failed twice, and it was demolished in 2016.

The 10 lost buildings we've honoured:

  1. The Tricorn Centre, Portsmouth (1966 - 2004; Owen Luder and Rodney Gordon; Brutalist)
  2. Pimlico Secondary School, London (1970 - 2010; John Bancroft; Brutalist)
  3. Birmingham Central Library (1974 - 2016; John Madin; Brutalist)
  4. Trinity Square Car Park, Gateshead (1967 - 2010; Owen Luder Partnership; Brutalist)
  5. Derwent Tower, Dunston (1972 - 2012; Owen Luder Partnership; Brutalist)
  6. Greenside, Virginia Water, Surrey (1937 - 2003; Connell, Ward and Lucas; Modernist)
  7. Milton Court, London (1959 - 2008; Chamberlin, Powell and Bon; Brutalist)
  8. Dunlop Rubber Factory, Brynmawr (1951 - 2001; Architects' Co-Partnership; Modernist)
  9. Gilbey's Gin HQ, Harlow (1963 - 1993; Peter Falconer and Associates; Brutalist)
  10. Royal Mail Mechanised Letter Office, Hemel Hempstead (1985 - 2012; Aldington, Craig and Collinge; High-Tech)

Sadly, Greenside, Dunlop Rubber Factory and Gilbey's Gin HQ were all listed at the time they were demolished, showing that not even listing is protecting 20th century buildings.

See them all here: https://www.gocompare.com/home-insurance/demolishing-modernism/


Why is this happening in the UK?

  • The planning system is failing to protect some of the nation's best post-war buildings
  • These buildings have often been maligned due to management and maintenance issues rather than because of faults in the actual design
  • 20th-century architecture is losing out to more easily understood periods such as Victorian or Georgian

This quote from Catherine Croft, Director of the Twentieth Century Society, sums up the issue well:

“As a society we tend to under-value the architectural accomplishments of the preceding generation, but in time the most loathed and deeply unfashionable buildings can end up both loved and listed. It’s hard to remember just how reviled Victorian Gothic once was, now that St. Pancras, which was only saved by the efforts of John Betjeman and the Victorian Society, is a treasured masterpiece and a glamorous hotel.

Good C20th architecture is losing out to more easily understood building periods such as Victorian and Georgian when it comes to the increasing pressures for redevelopment. But these buildings are a valuable legacy which add to the richness of the fabric of our architectural heritage and the best examples should be safeguarded for future generations. Sadly this is just not happening. These buildings formed the background to our everyday lives and their absence will impoverish us all.”

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