Don't hem in fine buildings

GREAT minds think alike. Two weeks ago I floated in this column the idea of a wish list of buildings that should be demolished. Now I find the same demolition idea being put forward by George Ferguson, president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, no less.

GREAT minds think alike.

Two weeks ago I floated in this column the idea of a wish list of buildings that should be demolished. Now I find the same demolition idea being put forward by George Ferguson, president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, no less.

What really gets George's goat is finding beautiful, historic buildings hemmed in by modern monstrosities.

He says: “As well as protecting our heritage from the ravages of time, we should shift the emphasis to improvement of the settings of our historic buildings and areas.”

Quite right, George. Mind you, if you took that to its logical conclusion you'd have to tear down at least half of London.

You'd have a field day in Ipswich too - though here it's more about mismanaged traffic than bad buildings.

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Arguably the most significant item of built heritage in the town is the Wolsey gateway - even if it is, symbolically, a gateway to nothing.

Lorries thunder by within feet of it all day. Vehicles waiting at the lights in College Street rev their engines right alongside, their exhaust fumes eating into the Tudor brickwork.

If nothing is done to save it, the historic gateway will soon collapse on to an unlucky motorist in a puff of red dust.

In the meantime, the demolition experts had better be pretty darn careful in taking down the nearby Pauls Maltings silo.

Just a week after I confessed my admittedly eccentric liking for the huge, almost featureless concrete building, came the inevitable announcement that it was to be knocked down.

Oh well - I never imagined I had any influence on the important decisions in the town. But it's good to have opinions in the open and get some debate going. Which is why I asked for your views on which Ipswich buildings you'd like to see flattened.

One reader, Mike Ash, obviously cares very deeply about the subject.

He wrote: “Ipswich has more than its fair share of monstrous carbuncles. The Willis building is by far the ugliest. To me it looks like a giant grand piano has been plonked down without any thought for its surroundings. Any chance of black and white paving stones to complete the image?

“Of new buildings the glass and drainpipe monstrosity that is Endeavour House is probably the worst.”

I might have to agree about Endeavour House. Its exterior certainly lacks the imagination or panache

of. . . say, the Willis building.

On the other hand, inside it appears quite a bright and exciting building, so maybe the effect on the

county's councillors, officers and staff won't be as bad as on mere passers-by like me.

It's nothing like as bad as the new crown court across the road, which appears to have been built largely of silver foil - presumably so offenders can be given a good roasting.

Mr Ash also has a down on what he calls “buildings built with Lego - such as the Odeon”. There we

certainly part company.

If there were to be only two 20th-century buildings preserved in Ipswich, they should be the Willis and the Odeon. It's only the uniqueness of the Willis building that would give it the edge.

Ipswich folk all seem to have a grudge against the Odeon. I think it's time they realised what a perfect example it is of neo-Fifties, post-modern kitsch.

It should be in the postcard racks, alongside Christchurch Mansion and the Ancient House.

If you really want an example of Lego buildings, pop up to the old airfield - sorry, Ravenswood - some time. Now that really is a Lego development.

Mind you, I've always thought a real house built of real Lego bricks would be pretty cool.

Which buildings would you like to be saved? Which ones are a waste of space? Write to Your Letters, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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