But heritage groups argue they should be reinstated once work is done
Fountains built to mark the base of London’s Centre Point are looking for a new home as preparations get under way for the Crossrail project.
The grade II listed fountains, built in 1963, are to make way for huge ventilation shafts and an underground ticket hall for the new Hawkins Brown-designed Crossrail station at the busy intersection of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street.
But heritage groups and architects including ABK founder Richard Burton — whose father-in-law Jupp Dernbach-Mayen designed the fountains — have demanded the fountains be incorporated in the area’s redevelopment amid claims of a wider threat to 20th century public art and sculpture.
Burton told BD he was unconvinced the fountains had to be removed, and that his family still hoped architects could rework the scheme to include them.
“It’s integral to the building,” he said. “If you look at [artists’ impressions of the proposed scheme] there’s a whole area that’s free. There might be room for it.”
The Twentieth Century Society and modern movement campaign group Docomomo backed Burton, with the latter claiming the planned removal of the fountains was symptomatic of a wider problem of postwar art being separated from its architectural context.
“These things are never just ‘add-ons’”, said Docomomo co-chair Dennis Sharp. “They are an integral part of the building, and they’re paid for by the public.”
Twentieth Century Society caseworker Jon Wright called on Hawkins Brown and Stanton Williams, which is designing the station’s entrances, to rethink their approach.
“All the drawings I’ve seen show a large plaza,” he said. “Clearly they are going to have some provision for art and I’d argue that these fountains are a significant part of what makes up Centre Point and its surrounds.
“We accept that this is necessary work [to temporarily remove the fountains] but they should be going back.”
But architects involved with the project insisted the fountains were being sacrificed for the greater good.
Hawkins Browns director Roger Hawkins said: “This has been the proposal for years, it’s part of the Crossrail bill.
“We’re building a ticket hall in the space under the pool six times larger than the current one.
“There has to be some pain to have the gain, and the gain is considerable.”
And Patrick Richard, project director for Stanton Williams, said the fountains had in fact made the plaza inaccessible to pedestrians.
He said: “It’s an impossible area to walk across, it’s a death trap.”
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