A British supermarket once lauded for its ingenuity and pioneering nature is now on the chopping block with a Swedish invader looming. When it was completed, the Greenwich branch of UK Mega-chain Sainsbury's was hailed as a breakthrough in eco-design and shortlisted for a prestigious Stirling Prize. Yet in early March the city council approved plans to demolish the structure in order to pave the way for a new IKEA warehouse outlet. The building was designed by Paul Hinkin during his time at Chetwoods Architects. Upon opening in 1999 it became the country's first retail space to receive an "excellent" BREEAM (roughly the British equivalent of LEED) rating. Design features contributing to this assessment include a reed bed that collects rainwater for use in the store, a liberal hand with recycled materials throughout the interior, and on-site wind turbines. Having since launched his own firm, Hinkin is passionate about preserving his 14 year old creation. Speaking from British sustainable building trade show Ecobuild, he vowed to "fight this until the wrecking ball goes through the roof," and called the decision to demolish "totally and utterly indefensible." Hinkin is not alone in this battle, as a campaign to save the structure has been brewing since November once it appeared that it might be under threat. In late February advocates for preserving the market put in a somewhat audacious bid to English Heritage to have the store listed as a Grade II, the second highest grade the organization bestows upon builds that are "particularly important...and of more than special interest." Approval would make the supermarket the youngest recipient of the honor. In light of the Greenwich Council's rulings these efforts would seem to heretofore have been in vain. Sainsbury's decision to sell the site on the condition that it not be filled by another food retailer essentially seals the fate of a structure that was explicitly designed for that purpose. In an essay written for the UK Green Building Council, Hinkin described bespoke, function-specific structures as a key component of his sustainable architectural philosophy. While they may be sustainable in the short-term, the problems buildings designed along such precepts eventually have in adapting to new programs would appear to make them decidedly unsustainable in the long term. The early success and what appears to be an increasingly likely untimely end of the Greenwich Sainsbury's illustrate the immediate benefits and eventual issues destined to plague this approach.
Posts tagged with "English Heritage":
Pimp Our Ruins Formula for architectural mischief: Start with a fabulous ruin. Then add a public entity with oversight of fabulous ruins, which, in turn, summons a quirky arts organization to devise a competition to do something useful with said ruin in peril. Governors Island? Nope. Think England: The fabulous ruin is Sutton Scarsdale Hall, a dilapidated wreck of a structure in the countryside of Derbyshire. The public entity is English Heritage, which watches over Stonehenge among other oddities, and the arts organization is something called the Centre of Attention. The 1724 Georgian hall was stripped to its foundation in 1919, and some of the interior paneling ended up in the Hearst Castle and at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, although apparently there are still “traces of sumptuous plasterwork.” (Don’t miss the ha-ha ditch on the picturesquely wrecked grounds.) The Centre of Attention has called for proposals to transform the stone shell into “a pavilion of post-contemporary curating.” If that’s your cup of tea, dive right in. Saarinen’s Punch List In the exhibition Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future at the Museum of the City of New York, there is a peculiar document among the Finnish architect’s personal ephemera on display. It’s a marriage proposal to his second wife, Aline, in the form of a checklist in which he rates her and several other women on categories including beauty, sex, and support of her husband’s career. It’s not unlike the way some architects weigh the pros and cons of a number of possible building schemes. We assume that Aline—an accomplished art critic, author, and television reporter—was amused. The exhibition closes January 31. Color Me Opaque Color authority Pantone has selected 15-5519 Turquoise as the 2010 color of the year. Thank god that’s sorted out. But apparently, no decision has been made on which media company will be awarded the contract to be the AIA’s official publication. Will Architectural Record renew, or will it go to one of the other two competitors who made the shortlist? Now we hear that we won’t hear until the board meets again in February. Frankly, we’re feeling rather teal about the whole business. [Ed.: This was published in print prior to the decision in, uh, January. So much for those sources, Sarah.] Send paint chips and tea leaves to email@example.com.