A friend has suggested that relatively new buildings are being demolished in order to be replaced by buildings that allow public companies to parade their environmental consciousness. The new building may meet low-carbon criteria, but the energy embodied in the original building (and its premature demolition) is conveniently ignored. The environmental merits of retention, conservation, improvement and reuse deserve greater exposure.
So I’ve been delighted to hear from my home town of Wolverhampton (upgraded to a city since I left it!) that the Royal Hospital is to be converted into a Tesco superstore. It’s a fine Grade II listed building, but now unsuited to modern healthcare – although we should perhaps question that ‘unsuited’ judgement more often than we do. Anyway it’s to become a superstore, and one of considerable grandeur I would think.
Ships aren’t buildings, but the suggestion that HMS Ark Royal might become a floating heliport for London – staffed by veterans of current and recent conflicts – struck me as really imaginative. I gather that the Mayor of London is opposing the plan. I’m normally one of Boris’s fans, but not this time. Scrapping a ship – or a building – after a mere 25 years doesn’t make sense to those of brought up to ‘waste not, want not’.