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Broadgate House

List Entry Summary

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

Name: Broadgate House

List entry Number: 1399994

Location

Broadgate House 329-333, 26-52, Broadgate, Coventry, CV1 1NH

The building may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County:

District: Coventry

District Type: Metropolitan Authority

Parish: Non Civil Parish

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: II

Date first listed: 24-Jan-2013

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Building

Office building. Developed from a masterplan of 1941, built 1949-53 by Coventry City Architect's Department, Chief Architect Donald EE Gibson, assistant in charge Frank Moate, in succession to R Ash and B Bunch.

Reasons for Designation

* Historic interest: it was a key element and one of the first buildings to be constructed of Gibson’s highly influential and pioneering plan for post-war reconstruction of Coventry, one of the most comprehensive examples of city-centre planning following the major destruction during World War II * Architectural interest: it is a bold composition with dense massing and an emphasis on the horizontal, and is deliberately low-rise to respect the surroundings and the vista towards the cathedral tower. It embodies the progressive architectural ideology of the era, rejecting styles of the past and drawing on Corbusian principles * Architectural interest: it set the language for the rest of the development, using strictly dimensioned modules which allowed individualisation of shop fronts whilst maintaining the rhythm and symmetry of the composition * Materials: Broadgate House comprises imaginatively combined materials to produce a muted, concordant arrangement and exhibits the limited palette of the Festival of Britain style * Innovation: the suspended restaurant block above Hertford Street, hung from the upper storeys, demonstrated structural ingenuity and imagination * Artistic interest: there is large quantity of good-quality external and internal artwork by notable artists. Of particular interest are the sculpture and mosaics, both looking back at city’s history and legends, and forward with representations of the populace * Intactness: it is largely unaltered externally and is the best surviving building within Gibson’s scheme * Rarity: it is one of few major commercial buildings erected during this period, and one of very few Festival of Britain-style buildings remaining nationally * Group Value: it has strong group value with the listed Lady Godiva statue and the Natwest Bank. Additionally, it dictates the distinctive style and character of its setting in the heart of the city

History

Broadgate House is one of a number of buildings, constructed in Coventry's city centre in the immediate post-war period, following the plan laid out by Donald Gibson, the City Architect and later also City Planner. Gibson (1908-1991) was appointed Coventry's City Architect in 1938 with the task of reorganising the densely-built city centre. His plans were first exhibited shortly before the bombing raids of November 1940, which effectively obliterated most of the centre and destroyed the cathedral. Unusually, the raids were given full media coverage at the time. The devastation provided the opportunity for even more radical replanning and Gibson's reworked plans were published in 1941 and were endorsed by Lord Reith. They were soon drawn into propaganda for post-war reconstruction of Britain and Coventry was the first in England to embark on a comprehensive replanning and rebuilding scheme for its centre. The plan went through a series of revisions, and was formally approved in 1946, although it took a number of years to implement.

The plan for the commercial heart of the city was focused on a pedestrianised centre, believed to be the first proposed in Europe. This was aligned on the surviving cathedral spire and opened out onto a central green space, Broadgate Garden, around which commercial buildings, Broadgate House, (referred to in plans as 'Block B'), the Hotel Leofric (Block C) and Owen Owen department store (Block H), were ranged. The buildings within the Precinct and around Broadgate were designed both by the City Architect's Department and commercial or in-house architects of the various stores. However, Gibson restricted the free use of the site so that all buildings conformed to a 6 metre module and used similar materials, thus unifying the various elements of the scheme. The Hotel Leofric and the west range of Broadgate House are thus complimentary.

The foundation stone of the shopping centre was laid in May 1948 by Princess Elizabeth at the opening of Broadgate Garden, and it forms part of the arcade at the north end of Broadgate House. Planning applications for 'Block B' were submitted in 1949 and the building was completed in 1953. It was designed to provide shop and office accommodation, let on long-term leases, for those whose premises had been destroyed by bombing.

In the 1970s the building underwent alteration when Hertford Street was pedestrianised, and in the 1980s Broadgate Garden was built upon by the Cathedral Lanes Shopping Centre.

Details

Office building. Developed from a masterplan of 1941, built 1949-53 by Coventry City Architect's Department, Chief Architect Donald EE Gibson, assistant in charge Frank Moate, in succession to R Ash and B Bunch.

MATERIALS: A reinforced concrete construction dictated by post-war shortages of steel, with a 6.3 by 7.2 metre structural grid, with the floor forming a bridge over Hertford Street suspended by steel hangers from the walls of the offices occupying the two floors above. The walls to the offices act as deep beams and the office windows have been so placed that the reinforcement can pass between them, allowing the large windows to the Broadgate frontage. Brick facing materials are of 'Blockley City blend', and columns at ground floor level are faced with Warwickshire blue limestone from Edgehill. The reinforced concrete vertical frame to the building is faced with Hornton stone and green Westmorland slate, and between the windows and on the former bridge the building is faced with Italian Travertine, the effect combining colour with durability.

PLAN: L-shaped plan around south-west corner of Broadgate, with the south range comprising the former bridge over Hertford Street (infilled in c.1970) and a clock tower at east end. The north end of the west range forms one side of the entrance to the Upper Precinct.

EXTERIOR: West Range: five principal storeys, with a sixth set back from the face. This range comprises five bays to the left with strip windows between the structural grid and a three-bay projecting end block to right. This brick-clad end block has 'hole-in-wall' windows with a strip window at the first floor on the return (north) elevation. The shop accommodation, and entrance to the offices above, at ground floor is set back behind an arcade, the roof of which provides a terrace for the first floor of the left side. The terrace has a steel balustrade. The columns are octagonal in section to the left; square in section to the right beneath the end block. The last of these bears an inscription commemorating the opening of Broadgate in 1949 and carvings by John Skelton. The rear elevation looks out over the Upper Precinct.

South Range: of five principal storeys, with a flat roof and a curved copper roof to plant. The full-height clock tower to the left (east), with projecting brick mouldings in stone surrounds, has a clock with circular discs in lieu of numbers set over two openings painted yellow. The lower bears the City crest with blue patterning between the doors; both of which open on the hour to reveal Lady Godiva on her horse, and, above, Peeping Tom, in reference to the legend associated with the city. Below this is a small projecting kiosk on a tiled plinth with a curved shop front. To the left side is the old Market Hall bell hung under a copper canopy, behind this is a cranked linking block to the 1930 Natwest Bank. The right part of this has narrow 'hole-in-wall' windows, the left part with similar fenestration to the bank. To the right of the clock tower the former bridge over Hertford Street is composed of eight bays with the top two storeys clad in travertine with large, regularly spaced 'hole-in-wall' windows within black stone frames. Beneath this the former restaurant is set back with a terrace, again with a steel balustrade. The infill below of glazed curtain walling is not of special interest. The right flanking block is of one bay.

The rear elevation of this block mirrors the front with central ten-bay bridge, again with 'hole-in-wall' windows and travertine cladding, with brick-clad flanking blocks at either side. There is a series of five large windows, those at the ends are of glass brick, within a deep continuous frame. Between the windows are four Doulting stone reliefs by Trevor Tennant depicting 'the people of Coventry'. The windows, formerly Crittal-style, have been replaced with uPVC but retain their form and arrangement of panes.

INTERIOR: Internally, there is some joinery, built-in cupboards and partitioning to the upper floors of west range. The lower floor offices, particularly in the south range have been opened out. Otherwise, circulation routes remain with offices on each floor either side of spinal corridors.

References to the city's history are found both externally and within the building: the mosaic panel in the entrance under the clock tower, depicting the C16 Coventry Martyrs, designed by Hugh Hosking and executed by Rene Antonietti of Geneva; the Godiva and Peeping Tom figures and mechanism in the clock tower designed by Trevor Tennant and mechanised by members of the Technical College, now the University of Coventry; the clock and the bell are from the old Market Hall Clock Tower, preserved after the Blitz of November 1940. Trevor Tennant also carved the four figures on the rear elevation of the south block and the lettering and carvings on the columns to the west block was executed by John Skelton.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Coventry Corporation, , The City We Loved , (1942), 25
Pevsner, N, Wedgwood, A, The Buildings of England: Warwickshire, (2003)
'Architectural Journal' in Reconstruction in Coventry, (September 1948), 194-5
'Architectural Design' in Coventry, Broadgate 'Block B', (December 1950), 350-53
'Concrete Quarterly' in Broadgate House and Bridge, (Oct-Dec 1956), 5
Websites
Gibson, Sir Donald Edward Evelyn (1908-1991), accessed from http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/66459
Other
Gould, J & Gould, C, Coventry Planned: The Architecture of the Plan for Coventry 1940-1978 , 2009,

National Grid Reference: SP3336878966

Map

Map
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End of official listing