When a block becomes a blot

IT'S certainly a landmark - but does it enhance the landscape or spoil it?The bizarre, four-square, misaligned tower at BT's Adastral Park in Martlesham has made it into a national top 12.

IT'S certainly a landmark - but does it enhance the landscape or spoil it?

The bizarre, four-square, misaligned tower at BT's Adastral Park in Martlesham has made it into a national top 12. Users of the BBC website have put it into a list of Britain's most-hated


I find that a little harsh. The tower is certainly unlovable, but I couldn't

summon up enough feeling on the matter to hate it either.

I suspect its appearance on the BBC list probably indicates simply that the

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thousands of computer-literates at BT Martlesham spend more time online than most other people.

There are a lot of rather

undistinguished buildings in Ipswich. The current frenzy of new construction includes some good ones and some rather nasty ones, though only time will tell how any of them feel in the long term.

Probably the only existing building in the town that I actually hate is the

notorious St Francis Tower.

In London or Birmingham or somewhere like that, one ugly concrete block would hardly be noticed. In Ipswich it's a sorry blot.

When I first moved here a decade ago I had a look at a 13th-floor flat. The jungle-like carpet should have been classified as a lifeform in its own right. One might have got lost for days in its furry pink depths. Had one stumbled out of it, blinking into the daylight, there would have been the risk of falling 120ft from the floor-level

window. Mankind was not meant to live like this.

Neither, of course, were lawns and bushes intended to live on the roofs of shapeless blobs of black glass. The Willis building, however, is probably the most famous in Ipswich and probably deserves its award-winning status, if only for

managing to retain some novelty value after 30 years.

It also, of course, has historical importance as the building that launched the career of architect Norman Foster.

Sir Norman will undoubtedly have a few pages in the new “Domesday Book” of worthy English buildings.

There are to be half a million entries in the new register, which should give English Heritage a king-sized nightmare as it prepares to take over the old listed buildings system.

It is a huge question which buildings should be listed - and which should be listed for demolition.

The Adastral Park tower, for instance, might well appear in either list.

So might the great, featureless concrete façade that is the Paul's Malt silo by Stoke Bridge. I like it a lot, and it certainly has local historical interest, but I know others who would love to see it flattened. That process that would probably take a deal of engineering creativity in itself.

The curving sweep of insurance offices on Civic Drive probably has some fans.

Personally, I'd love to see it cleared away - especially if the old Mount could magically be restored - as our picture tried to recreate in yesterday's Star.

The most pressing question in the town, however, is how the new Waterfront development can be integrated with the town centre - and how to rescue and use the row of scandalously neglected medieval churches that lie between.

If you have a good answer to that conundrum, please tell the borough

council pronto.

And if you have a good idea of which Ipswich buildings you love, and which you hate, please let me know by e- mail at the address above.

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