Paul Burgess praises an atrium that makes the heart soar, but missed chances just make it sore. And check out the new Back Issues …
Plantation Place is a new building by Arup Associates, the redevelopment of an entire city block on Fenchurch Street in the City. It’s a building of tremendous scale and scope but also of great subtlety; it’s full of gracious touches that give it a human scale. At its heart is a

well-engineered atrium. As you come up the steps, it unfolds in front of you and steps back into a double-volume space so your eye is taken up and you see through the top up to the sky with clouds scudding across – it’s just fantastic. Great office buildings are about making the occupiers feel good about being in there and uplifted by coming into work. I was involved in the development of Plantation Place, so my judgment is somewhat subjective, but an objective assessment was carried out by the international panel of judges who selected it for inclusion in the New City Architecture exhibition taking place at Broadgate at the moment.

The blunder is not getting on with Crossrail. London desperately needs better public transport. We’ve seen the tremendous architecture the Jubilee Line generated. It’s a blunder if we don’t get on with Crossrail quickly, and take the opportunity to build further great new urban station architecture.

Paul Burgess is a director at British Land. The New City Architecture exhibition runs until 2 July – see for details

Back issues

June 1940

Keep your pecker up
The defeat of the French army, after heroic fighting, brings the war literally to our own hearth and homes. This is not the moment to inquire into the reasons for the disasters that have overtaken the Allied arms. There will be time for that hereafter. The immediate need is to press on with every conceivable preparation against the attack that may soon fall upon us, and in this work the building industry must play an indispensable part.

“I see great reason for intense vigilance and exertion,” said the prime minister this week “but none for panic and despair.”

Emergency Powers Act
The swift, unanimous acceptance by parliament and people of the Emergency Powers Defence measures shows the complete readiness of the men and women of this country to throw their full weight into the scales on the side of victory rather than to quibble at this temporary surrender of the democratic ideal, as previously acknowledged.

The task of the Minister of Public Works must be to realign the building industry to the life of the country under war conditions. So long as resources in men and materials are wholly required for war construction there is naturally no call for other civil work to go on, but plans for the more urgent of the latter type should be prepared (many in fact are so prepared) in readiness for the slackening of war construction. Unemployment among brick layers, has as its natural corollary idleness in the brickfields, and the industry must not be allowed to break down for want of bare sufficiency of work, or the results might be disastrous to reconstruction plans.

Air attacks imminent
Sir, It is now probable that there will be large-scale air attacks on Great Britain within two or three weeks. Therefore, it is urgent as never before that the present evacuation scheme be recast. Eighty four per cent of the three million women and children included in the scheme of last September are now in vulnerable areas; only about 9 per cent of these children have been registered by their parents for future evacuation when bombing begins. An unplanned evacuation is extremely likely, and local authorities are organising temporary accommodation for panic evacuees and, no doubt, billets for more than the registered number of children.

What is essential is an immediate expansion of the evacuation scheme to cover all children in danger areas. For this, the simplest and most immediately practical means is to make full use of large country houses.

MJ Blanco White ARIBA, Hon. Sec. Evacuation Committee, 113 High Holborn, WC1.