Welbeck Street Car Park
One road along from London’s busiest shopping mecca – Oxford Street – stands the brutalist marvel; Welbeck Street Car Park.
It might not be everyone’s cup of tea aesthetically, but even if you’re not a fan of Brutalist architecture, I think you can at least admire the geometric forms.
And that’s why it’s a crying shame that it will soon be no more…
Plans for Demolition
Built in the 1970s and designed by Michael Blampied and Partners. It was sold in 2016 to Shiva Hotels for around £100m. Despite its striking design, it doesn’t meet the listings requirements for Historic England, so was approved for demolition by Westminster Council.
However, an alternative plan by JAA architects has been submitted as part of a campaign to keep the carpark’s features. The Twentieth Century Society is supporting this design as part of its ‘Diamonds are Forever’ campaign against demolition.
Image by Theo Simpson for JAA. From Dezeen.
A petition was set up to ask the Mayor of London to intervene, but sadly it didn’t work. In his final decision letter Sadiq Khan said he was ‘content to let Westminster City Council determine the case itself’.
Judging by initial architectural plans by Eric Parry Architects, none of the original building’s features will be kept in the new hotel plan.
Image of the design by Eric Parry Architects, picture from Architects Journal
The architects in a statement did say they’d considered including the existing building’s facade so the diamond-shaped pattern could be saved, but “no suitable solution was found”. The sticking point was the height of car park levels compared to modern hotel expectations.
I’ve always found that the joy of London is the mix of old and new. So, just as we should save the centuries-old historic buildings, we also have a duty to maintain and keep newer buildings of architectural note.
Meatliquor (who rent the retail space on the ground floor) reported that they will be closing their doors in February 2019.
An objector quoted in the Evening Standard on 23 November 2018 said “Yes it may need a clean up and the ground floor levels have not been looked after, but look up! This building is stunning.”
I can’t help but agree. So what do you reckon. Is it worth saving?
Shortly after posting this a reader alerted me to an epic verse of love and loss. It’s been scrawled on the white hoardings of Welbeck Street Carpark and so I wanted to share it with you. I think it sums up my feelings of seeing this unique structure go.