Coventry v the wrecking ball: We need gentle repair – not wholesale demolition – The Guardian

The new shopping streets were human in scale: constructed with fine products, boasting carefully incorporated public art, signs, seating and planting– the new picturesquely prepared to frame views of the old.Fifty-five years on, Coventry is toasting its status as the 2021 UK city of culture with a “brutalist blue” ad project that celebrates the gritty concrete city in all its splendor. A gargantuan preparation application has been submitted to destroy half of the town centre and replace it with a shopping mall with flats on top, in what has actually been condemned as a violent attack on the citys modernist heritage, simply when it should be being celebrated.Visual identity … Coventrys City of Culture video “Its stunning to see the lack of consideration our own council has for the heritage of our city,” states Vincent Hammersley, chair of The Coventry Society, which has actually been battling the strategies. Photograph: Mirrorpix/Getty ImagesThe 15-acre website of the City Centre South strategy, a joint endeavor with the council, incorporates a considerable piece of the pedestrianised town centre, designed by city architect and planning officer Arthur Ling from 1955, and later Terence Gregory from 1963.”Its a real catastrophe,” says Jeremy Gould, author of Coventry: The Making of a Modern City, the conclusive book on the citys postwar advancement. Going to Coventry today, it can be hard to fully value the quality of the city designers original vision after decades of neglectVisiting Coventry today, it can be tough to completely appreciate the quality of the city designers original vision.

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Architecture
From the rubble of war, Coventry restored a town centre hailed as an extreme metropolitan vision. Yet, even as it commemorates this heritage as UK city of culture, organizers are outlining its destruction

The new shopping streets were human in scale: constructed with fine products, boasting thoroughly integrated public art, signage, seating and planting– the new picturesquely prepared to frame views of the old.Fifty-five years on, Coventry is toasting its status as the 2021 UK city of culture with a “brutalist blue” ad campaign that celebrates the gritty concrete city in all its splendor. A giant preparation application has actually been submitted to demolish half of the town centre and replace it with a shopping mall with flats on top, in what has actually been condemned as a violent assault on the citys modernist heritage, simply when it needs to be being celebrated.Visual identity … Coventrys City of Culture video “Its stunning to see the absence of consideration our own council has for the heritage of our city,” states Vincent Hammersley, chair of The Coventry Society, which has been fighting the strategies. Photograph: Mirrorpix/Getty ImagesThe 15-acre site of the City Centre South strategy, a joint endeavor with the council, encompasses a significant chunk of the pedestrianised town centre, developed by city designer and planning officer Arthur Ling from 1955, and later on Terence Gregory from 1963.
“Its a real tragedy,” states Jeremy Gould, author of Coventry: The Making of a Modern City, the conclusive book on the citys postwar development. Visiting Coventry today, it can be tough to totally appreciate the quality of the city designers initial vision after years of neglectVisiting Coventry today, it can be tough to completely value the quality of the city architects original vision.”Motor city … the listed City Arcade Carpark in 1985.
“Up in the air … the impressive Coventry Sports and Leisure Centre, compared to the shape of an elephant. Around the exact same time, the councils only heritage officer left, having opposed some of the steroidal trainee tower obstructs that now hem the city, leaving a space of expertise.At least 10 of the kept in mind buildings featured in Goulds 2016 book have actually considering that been demolished, and others stay threatened. Photograph: Colin Underhill/AlamyAs its year as city of culture gets under way, this would be the ideal time for Coventry to reveal the world how in a different way regeneration could be done.
OBoyle says improvements have currently begun in the Upper Precinct, the earlier part of the town centre, where a cumbersome 1980s escalator has been eliminated and sight-lines brought back. But these little tweaks do little to compensate for the destruction next door.”There is a genuine chance to showcase Coventry as the global success that it was,” says Saumarez Smith. “There is something about the optimism of that early moment that makes what is occurring now a lot more agonizing. It is the city to tell the history of postwar British planning and the role of the cars and truck. Its not difficult that it will end up being a world heritage website.” If it endures the trashing ball, that is.

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