Ours is def­i­nitely city of bru­tal con­crete blocks

Coventry Telegraph - - LETTERS -

FOL­LOW­ING Jeremy Vine’s visit to Coven­try and its ‘bru­tal con­crete’ post-war ar­chi­tec­ture, there is a gen­eral de­bate that some ar­chi­tects gen­er­ally praise this style, but most of the pop­u­la­tion loath it. We are now in­formed by Maxwell Hutchin­son that it is “not con­crete, it’s rare oolitic lime­stone from up­per Umbria”. Did he take an early turn off the mo­tor­way and visit Ox­ford or Cam­bridge by mis­take? Coven­try is most def­i­nitely a city of post-war unattrac­tive con­crete and glass rec­tan­gu­lar blocks. Yes, there are build­ings such as the Coun­cil House, those to the rear around Bay­ley Lane and also Spon Street, that are con­structed of lime­stone and at­trac­tive to the eye, but these are all pre-war. Yes, Coven­try was right­fully praised for in­no­vat­ing pedes­tri­anised precincts, but why sur­round it by ugly ‘bru­tal con­crete’ ar­chi­tec­ture? Other Euro­pean ci­ties were also flat­tened in WWII, but chose to re­build in an at­trac­tive pre-war style (and have a thriv­ing tourist in­dus­try). Con­crete is in­deed a very im­por­tant struc­tural ma­te­rial and you ab­so­lutely do not have to build in brick, but con­crete can be moulded into any shape you like. The im­por­tant façade can then be fin­ished in any ma­te­rial that you wish, to make the struc­ture at­trac­tive. When­ever Coven­try shows sim­u­la­tions of ‘won­der­ful new de­vel­op­ments’ like Fri­ar­gate (an­other con­crete, steel and glass block), they al­ways ob­scure the ugly view with com­puter-gen­er­ated images of large trees in front of the build­ing. If the build­ing is so at­trac­tive, there should be no need to dis­guise it with trees and peo­ple wan­der­ing around or ly­ing on the grass. Clive Birch Tile Hill

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