Colechurch House, London Bridge SE1

Aficionados of 20th Century brutalist architecture need to hasten to appreciate Colechurch House. It is due for demolition and redevelopment. This month’s post in the marvellous “London Inheritance” site informed me about the planning application, so I rushed over there to draw a picture before the building became swathed in plastic.

Colechurch House SE1, 18th May 2021, 12:30pm. 7″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 10

I drew this picture looking over the railings from London Bridge. This position commanded an excellent view of Colechurch House, but it meant I had my back to the passers-by on the pavement, which made me nervous. I strapped my rucksack to the railing and worked quickly. My drawing makes the building look a little precarious, perhaps that reflects my own nervousness standing in the wind on London Bridge, or perhaps it reflects the nervousness of the building as it awaits imminent demolition.

Here is work in progress. I completed the pen-and-ink on location and the colour at my desk.

Colechurch House was completed in the late 1960s* to the designs of E G Chandler. Pre-pandemic, the area under the building at podium level contained a tidal flow of commuters walking between London Bridge Station and the City of London. The City of London Corporation entity known as “Bridge House Estates” owns the freehold. The site is in the London Borough of Southwark (called “LBS” in the press release below). The planning application is GLA reference 2020/6867/S1 and has been approved. Here’s the plan, according to the summary in the planning application:

“Redevelopment of the site to include demolition of Colechurch House, pedestrian footbridge and walkway and erection of an elevated 22-storey building (+ 4-storey basement) above a public park and providing office floorspace, retail floorspace, restaurant/café floorspace, leisure floorspace (all Use Class E), theatre and a bar (Sui Generis), delivered alongside public realm improvements, roof gardens, cycle parking, servicing, refuse, plant areas and other associated works incidental to the development.”

Here’s a press release from the City of London last year, announcing the development.

*Completion date “late 1960s” according to https://colechurchhouse.com/site, the website of the new development. It also says “It is named after Peter of Colechurch who designed the first stone bridge across the Thames here.”

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