Well the Olympics have come and gone, and I’ve been following closely what’s going to happen to the 0lympic park and the existing structures on the site now that the games have ended. We are all familiar with the term legacy but also the word preservation is starting to creep in to conversations and news reports. I’m sure most people agree with me that the Olympic park needs to be preserved in some format, and the permanent buildings, such as the stadium in my opinion have already become iconic, and it could be argued, already historically important to our national history. So are they worthy of listed building status and can structures that are only a few years old achieve a listing? Well in my opinion yes, let’s have a look at the criteria for listing.
“A building of special architectural or historic interest” Well, I certainly think the Olympic Stadium and the Velodrome are of architectural interest and can anyone argue that this whole site is not already of historic importance. These games will be talked about long in to the future, and I believe there will be people from all over the world who will want to visit the site to see where it all happened, these games and this location have had a profound effect on the lives of many people the world over.
Is there any precedent for listing modern buildings, well yes, It’s not just old buildings that are listed by the term modern we tend to mean post second world war and there are plenty of examples of buildings being listed after this date. The age and type of building suitable for listing has been refined over the years.
In 1987, a new system was introduced which allowed the period of eligibility to be dynamic. This system became known as the thirty year rule and allowed any building begun over 30 years ago to be considered eligible for listing. At the same time, a ten year rule was introduced which allowed for very modern buildings, to be considered for listing provided that they satisfied a number of criteria (basically they had to be threatened with demolition or alteration and had to be an outstanding example at Grade 1 or Grade 2 level). The Willis Faber Insurance Building situated in Ipswich is a good example as this was only constructed in 1972.
Another example and of course one very well known to those of us working in the property insurance industry is that of the Lloyds of London Insurance Building which was granted Grade 1 status on 19th December 2011. No description of this building is necessary as almost everyone even outside of the insurance industry is aware of its inside out design, and it forms a focal point for the City of London.
There are lots of other examples of post war buildings achieving listed status from former factories to housing estates. The depth of breath of the listing’s does not always set out to champion excellence in building techniques, far from it, English Heritage are seeking to preserve snapshots of important times in our islands history.
So my argument is, if we have successfully introduced a 30 year rule and a 10 year rule, and on the basis we are experiencing a year that will go down in history as unparalleled, should we not be seeking to introduce, even as a temporary measure a 2 year rule to ensure that these Olympic buildings that have helped form so many treasured memories for all of us are themselves preserved for the nation by being awarded listed building status.
At Assetsure, we will endeavour to be able to offer insurance quotations for listed buildings of any age or description.