Wednesday23 August 2017

Eric Parry hotel to replace 'outstanding' Brutalist car park

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Westminster City Council approves proposals to demolish 70s landmark for 206-room development

A Brutalist car park in a prime part of London’s West End is to be demolished to make way for an Eric Parry Architects-designed hotel.

Westminster City Council this week cleared Parry’s 10-storey structure, which will feature ceramic cladding in a banded pattern, for the site of Welbeck Street Car Park, just north of Oxford Street.

The car park, designed by Michael Blampied and Partners and completed in the early 1970s, has a distinctive geometric motif, placing it at the “lighter” end of the Brutalist spectrum.

It was denied listed status earlier this year by the Department for Culture Media and Sport on the advice of Historic England.

The government heritage adviser said that while the building “stands out nationally as an exemplar of 1960s car parks”, it did not compare well with “more striking and slightly earlier commercial buildings in the Pop Art movement”.


Welbeck Street Car Park

Welbeck Street Car Park, designed by Michael Blampied and Partners


Parry’s replacement scheme will deliver a new 206-room structure for developer Shiva Hotels featuring a ground-floor café, a bar and restaurant, a publicly-accessible spa higher in the building, and a roof terrace.

The design and access statement supporting the proposals said the architect had examined the potential of reusing parts of the existing structure for the hotel development.

However it said that at 2.1m the structural height of its floors was very low, prohibiting the reuse of the existing building’s frame, while reuse of its existing façade would entail “potentially costly re-engineering with a considerable loss of floor area”.

The statement added that raising the existing building’s façade so that its pre-cast diamond-shaped apertures matched with the new hotel’s proposed floor levels had been considered, but differing dimensions between the car park levels and modern hotel standards meant “no suitable solution was found”.  

Recommending the Parry proposals for approval, Westminster planning officers said the scheme was a high-quality building that would contribute positively to, and preserve and enhance, the character and appearance of the local area.

This is a bold, eye-catching design, of high quality and it is considered acceptable in this location,” they said.

Although the 0.12 hectare development site is on the edge of the Harley Street Conservation Area and the Stratford Place Conservation Area, it does not sit inside either.

Planning officers said the scheme would not harm nearby heritage assets, which include the Oriental Club and St Peter’s Church, both of which are grade I-listed.

Welbeck Street Car Park was originally built for department store chain Debenhams, whose flagship Oxford Street branch is immediately south of the structure, and whose UK head office is immediately east.



Readers' comments (17)

  • Christopher  Harvey AIA

    As a fan of this structure, it is a shame that we cannot find a way to move or relocate such buildings. A modernisation, clean up, or perhaps a re-purposing would be appropriate. Bicycle-carpark? I understand the financial pressures that comes with land ownership in this proximity, the hotel will do very well and add vibrancy within the district. It is a shame that we will lose yet another fine example of architectural experimentation and exploration.

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  • Beavis

    absolute crime

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  • I dont have a problem with this.

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  • As Christopher points out, it is a real shame that we are loosing a very unique and memorable structure and replacing it with something instantly forgetable.

    London's property churn is relentless.

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  • It looks an awful lot like the new Victoria Gate in Leeds, which has won RIBA awards for its design:


    It also looks a lot better than the characterless block proposed to replace it.

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  • The existing car park has some integrity, the proposed replacement is a future carbuncle candidate.

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  • The existing Car park structure should have been thought of with a little more consideration in my opinion - the structure (even though dated) provided an opportunity to propose a unique and refined facade - if done right could have been elegant and pragmatic.

    Not at all convinced by the proposal here!

    Opportunity missed by EPA!!

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  • It's a shame. The existing building is much nicer.

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  • SomeoneStoleMyNick

    Another horrible building from the once-promising Parry. Sold out - gone commercial - lost his touch. But most disastrously of all: the loss of one of central London's most interesting postwar buildings. I wonder how Parry sleeps at night, selling out London's architectural history for a pile of lucre. And by the way, this car park has got nothing to do with Brutalism.

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  • Eric Parry is the safe pair of hands now and has an office that needs feeding. Get real. The car park was interesting but past its natural life. Conversion not an option. The replacement is another tiled facade which is the EPA solution for central London, setting its own context now.

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