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Sunday20 August 2017

Chipperfield's Geffrye museum extension rejected by councillors

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Architect suffers setback after councillors side with campaigners

Plans for a David Chipperfield-designed extension to the Geffrye Museum have suffered a setback after being rejected by Hackney’s planning committee.

Last night, councilllors rejected the proposal, which included demolishing the former Marquis of Lansdowne pub, by six votes to two. Councillors said the authority had not been given enough expert guidance on the issue.

Councillors said they were “unconvinced” Chipperfield’s extension “wouldn’t cause substantial harm” to the existing museum and nor did the public benefits of the scheme outweigh “the risk of harm” to the museum and the loss of the pub. And they added Chipperfield’s proposal “was not of sufficient merit” to justify the loss of the pub.

The decision will be welcomed by conservation and pub groups who mounted a campaign against the plans which won the support of high-profile campaigners including architectural historian Dan Cruickshank.

Councillors rejected the recommendation of planning officers, who had noted that demolition would cause some harm to the area but believed this would be “less than substantial” and justified by the subsequent development.

While the pub is not listed it sits within a conservation area and groups including the Victorian and Georgian societies warned its demolition would be a “real historical loss”.

However, other groups including the Hackney Society backed its demolition and pointed to the fact that the property had not been used as a pub for nearly 20 years.

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Readers' comments (12)

  • Hopefully they can look at a new design that incorporates the pub. Some displays on the evolution og pub interiors might be good, especially if you could actually buy a pint there.

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  • Austin Clegg

    While discussions have rightly focussed on the pub, surely this should be rejected on the basis of the depressingly dreary neo-brutalist minimalism of this extension to such a charming museum.

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  • "Hopefully they can look at a new design that incorporates the pub. Some displays on the evolution og pub interiors might be good, especially if you could actually buy a pint there."

    Firstly the rejection means the building money is lost (it was time limited) so there is unlikely to be any development now.

    Secondly if you want a museum of pub interiors then set one up, but the Geffrye is not that it is a museum of DOMESTIC interiors. You might as well ask why the Natural History Museum doesn't have a display of London Buses.

    As for the former Lansdowne pub it does not have any surviving interior features anyway, they were ripped out years ago, and architecturally it is a nonentity.

    A chance for a great new museum building has been lost largely due to the uninformed rantings of outsiders, not locals. This is a deprived part of London where the Geffrye serves a local community that (despite the pup protestors, many of whom have never even been near Hoxton) tends to love the museum and its wonderful work. Just ask them.

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  • What's all this about the pub? Isn't the real question whether or not the scheme will "cause substantial harm" to the EXISTING MUSEUM ( a premier league building). The grotty pub is Vauxhall Conference. On the strength of the above visuals, the councillors might well be right. It might well be a case of a fine practice firing on two cylinders: a re-think might be a very good idea.

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  • Pub or no pub the scheme looks pretty dull. Des it deserve lottery money? Is all lost by delay, doubt that too. A good scheme should be fundable and the place restored.

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  • The best sometimes is not the good.
    And I think this is the case...
    A city is made by people that are using spaces.
    Having an empty building that use to be a pub 20 years ago instead of a museum is just no sense.

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  • Robert Park

    I think there is a distinct correlation between the interiors of pubs, and domestic interiors. For many, the local pub served as a kind of shared living room, and the internal decor was often influence by the Georgian and Victorian parlours of the middle-classes.

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  • Finally some balanced comments on this issue, as resident almost local to this museum [I live in Spitalfields] I have been trying for weeks to place a comment on a well know local blog which sadly censors comments which might offer a different perspective. In my opinion the whole argument became ridiculous when class became the central issue, and this pub was romanticised as a symbol of the East End working classes. The irony being that the proposal to preserve the pub is really terribly ‘middle class’ . . .? Furthermore where was everyone when the pub closed?? Were any of the commentators and supporters actually ever customers of the pub? Most likely not, but they propose to recreate it in their own image.? This is not about preservation but about creating a sanitized pastiche of something that is long gone, with more than a whiff of romanticism . . . While some buildings are doubtless worthy of preservation, if we are not careful we will be living in a post modern 'Disneyfication' of our past.

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  • Public House- says it all really.........

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  • Kirsten Elliott

    Firstly, to someone who had been a visitor to the museum and attended a course, it was very disappointing to find its representatives describing this pub as mid-Victorian. Given they are building experts, they must have knwn it was not true. At the very latest, it exists by 1836, and, given the name, I think 1833 is a more likely date. The Marquis of Lansdowne became a working class hero for pushing through the reform act, and heroes like this were often commemorated in pub names. SInce I have been able to do that research, experts on buildings should have been able to do the same and more - this appears to have been deliberate misrepresentation. If so that is shameful.
    Secondly, a map of 1826 shows that there is a building on the site. We do not know what it was, and as I suppose that the msueum holds the deeds and is unlikely to let anyone else see them, we may never know. Looking at the picture of the pub again, I can see no reason why it could not be late Georgian, certianly from the exterior. Even if this is a rebuild, parts of that older building are almost certainly contained within this one. So I do not think that the building was properly researched. In Bristol, English Heritage ignored our research which showed that a pub in a similar case contained a much older building - indeed, its representatives said we were wrong. Inevitably, as the building was demolished, the evidence that we were right became obvious - but by then it was too late.
    Finally, it is very sad that the museum trustees ignored the architects who had given them a wonderful extension which contrived to be at once modern and respectful to the old building in favour of Chipperfield. Chipperfield used to be one of my favourite architects - his building for the River and Rowing museum at Henley is a joy. But it seems to me that as he has got older and more famous, the spark that made his designs magical has gone. To paraphrase Le Corbusier: they do not make me happy and art no longer enters in. That is the essential difference between a building and architecture, according to the great man. And that is very sad indeed.

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