When conservation makes buildings less attractive

A friend of mine told me about a visit by a group of former Lasdun employees to the University of East Anglia, defined by the deceased architect’s distintive ziggurat accommodation blocks. The idea originally was that students could step from their rooms to the terraces outside, but that is now precluded by health and safety rules, and only a small area of glazing for ventialtion is allowed to be opened in each room.

This is the result of health and safety considerations that just did not exist at the time of the buildings’ design.You could argue that students will take risks in any case if they want to. But no institution wants to be sued. The answer of course would be to put up balustrades, but even the most tasteful are precluded by the buildings’ listing. A clear case of maintaining appearance at the expense of function.

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