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Wednesday23 July 2014

Axe to fall on Stirling-shortlisted eco-supermarket

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Architect vows to fight on

Greenwich council has approved plans to demolish a pioneering eco-supermarket that was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize.

The ultra-sustainable store, which opened just 14 years ago, will now be flattened to make way for an IKEA warehouse outlet – unless a last-minute listing application succeeds.

Paul Hinkin, the store’s original architect, said the decision was “totally and utterly indefensible” and vowed to continue the battle to save the building.

“I shall fight this until the wrecking ball goes through the roof. The wider harm it will do to the cause of sustainability in the UK is incalculable,” he said, speaking from Ecobuild.

It was “surreal” to be at a sustainable construction trade show less than 24 hours after imploring Greenwich’s planning committee to save one of the country’s most sustainable retail buildings, he said.

The store, designed when Hinkin, now managing director at Black Architecture, worked for Chetwoods, contains a host of sustainable features from door mats made from recycled tyres to a reed bed out the back through which rainwater is filtered before being used inside.

The new IKEA branch, designed by Bath practice Stubbs Rich which already has six IKEAs to its name, would fill the site, including the reed bed, as well as a neighbouring branch of Comet.

The Twentieth Century Society, alarmed by the threat to the building, submitted a listing application last month. English Heritage confirmed it has received this.

If approved, the building would be the youngest ever listed. Threatened buildings can be considered for listing 10 years after construction began, but only at grade II* or above.

Sainsbury’s would not comment, but BD understands the supermarket intends to stay open for about a year, until a new branch has opened.

IKEA’s deputy property manager, Steve Pettyfer, said it was too early to discuss timescales and that their next step would be to develop detailed plans.

He added: “The store will be IKEA UK’s most sustainable to date and achieve the latest Breeam Excellent standard as well as meet the GLA’s demanding new sustainability criteria, demonstrating our continued commitment to sustainable development.”

 

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Readers' comments (6)

  • Interesting conundrum. Should new buildings be given a BREEAM Excellent rating when they have replaced and squandered a perfectly serviceable building?

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  • Robert Park

    I don't have too much sympathy with Paul Hinkin's position. I realise that the building was his baby, but I disagree with his analysis that it will set-back the cause of sustainable design. If anything it could help. We may become more reluctant to design buildings that can only have one future use for one existing occupier. Buildings have to be reusable to be sustainable, and we need to reuse our existing building stock in clever ways. The new generation of young architects realise this though the last generation are still falling back on hyper-functional modernism in their design practice. I think that this is why this building has failed its first major examination.

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  • Robert Park

    Further. This article by Paul Hinkin is interesting:
    http://www.ukgbc.org/opinion/re-imagining-design-and-embedding-sustainability

    He is clearly very wedded to the idea of buildings that are highly tailored to their use. In this way sustainability can be process driven for the needs of the occupiers.

    However, what happens when the occupiers move out, or internal processes change? Rather than demolition and rebuilding, I'd suggest that adaptation is among the most interesting areas of architectural practice at the moment - but when we do tackle a new building, it has to have a fighting chance for a new life as something else in the future.

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  • I have watched (1) the timber cladding being repaired and replaced several times (2) the energy wasted on clipping shrubs and grass on the green-in-colour-only banks (3) the roof leaking. These observations make me doubt the buildings sustainability credentials.

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  • Never mind "Axe to fall on Stirling-shortlisted eco-supermarket". What about the heavy hand that threatens to fall on Stirling himself, turning his FLorey Building into a hideous caricature of his intentions (see report in this very newspaper).

    It seems that people in this country care more about the Stirling Prize than Stirling. The loss of the Greenwich Sainsbury's would be a pity but the besmirching of the Florey would be a disaster. Let's try to keep some perspective.

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  • Anyway - what's sustainable about a supermarket that have to drive to?

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