Wellington Arch next to Hyde Park has swapped out the display inside the top of the arch bit and is running a short exhibition on how 20th century buildings, often derided have been preserved and in some cases, gained affection.

The exhibition is timely as it is now 25 years since the first major post-war buildings were listed.

Post war buildings are a bit of a touchy subject with a lot of stuff put up in haste, often fairly cheaply and then left to fester and rot rather than being torn down and replaced when their flaws were realised.

What the exhibition did tell me, which was interesting is that part of the desire for prefab construction wasn’t just speed of assembly on site, but due to a post-war shortage of skilled bricklayers and joiners. Prefab was seen as a way of getting around that problem.

Sadly, neglect, and poor original construction means that as a country we are stuck with a wariness of prefab, even though the problems encountered in the 1960s have long since been solved.

Anyway, back to the exhibition itself, which is laid out over the two floors of the gallery space, and have that guaranteed lure for any architectural fan — models. Who would have expected to see that famous icon of steel and concrete, the Lloyds Building rendered in wood?

The Economist’s tower is here as well — had no idea that part of the motivation in building it was so that the Chairman could live in the top floor. A nice perk of the job!

In fact, it was also another media outlet that saw its post-war building get the first such listing by English Heritage — Bracken House, which was commissioned by the Financial Times. Dotted around the rest of the display is mainly photos of notable buildings, from Milton Keynes, to the Centre Point tower, to Coventry Cathedral or Trellick Tower.

The exhibition is open inside the Arch until the 24th November. Don’t forget to check out the views from the balconies or the museum one floor down if you visit.


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