Building deserves new lease of life

The unforgiving Brutalist architecture of Stonebow House has divided opinion over the years

The unforgiving Brutalist architecture of Stonebow House has divided opinion over the years

First published in Letters by

YORK Alternative History and York Civic Trust should be commended on their York: Living With History Project which has opened up discussion about how decisions are made on our local urban heritage (The Press, April 7).

The Stonebow inquiry event last Saturday enabled a cross section of people to consider possible options for this unloved building in the heart of York.

While the tower is empty, its base currently provides unique city centre space for much loved music venues, as well as other businesses.

Our discussions included whether adapting and modernising the building for art space, affordable housing or other purposes might be a better option to demolition, which would have high environmental and financial costs and result in the loss of existing uses.

The Brutalist appearance of the building might be transformed with green roofs or roof gardens, insulation and stylish alterations.

Hundterwasser buildings in Vienna were mentioned as just one example of how Brutalist architecture can be transformed. As a key entrance point to Stonebow and the new Hungate this is an exciting opportunity to run a genuine public consultation and create a worthy addition to York’s 21st century history!

Denise Craghill, Chair, York Green Party Broadway West, York.

Comments (5)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

10:36am Thu 17 Apr 14

Jonothon says...

Bare concrete is invariably drab and unappealing. Trellick Towers in London is just about bearable, but that is because of its redeeming design features. Stonebow house was an ugly buildingfrom the outset and is one of the worst examples of post war brutalism and not worth saving.

At least Denise Craghill has the good sense not to defend the monstrosity, she suggests stylish alterations and covering it in greenery. In effect she recommends hiding it from view. This reminds me of what someone once said of Norwich City Hall, "Fog is its friend"

Anyway it ain't going to happen so perhaps we can soon look forward to a new building on the site. Hopefully there will be a architectural competition for this sensitive location, with the people of York having a say in the selection of the winning design
Bare concrete is invariably drab and unappealing. Trellick Towers in London is just about bearable, but that is because of its redeeming design features. Stonebow house was an ugly buildingfrom the outset and is one of the worst examples of post war brutalism and not worth saving. At least Denise Craghill has the good sense not to defend the monstrosity, she suggests stylish alterations and covering it in greenery. In effect she recommends hiding it from view. This reminds me of what someone once said of Norwich City Hall, "Fog is its friend" Anyway it ain't going to happen so perhaps we can soon look forward to a new building on the site. Hopefully there will be a architectural competition for this sensitive location, with the people of York having a say in the selection of the winning design Jonothon
  • Score: 10

11:32am Thu 17 Apr 14

rking1977 says...

The council has approved the demolition of Burnholme WMC, which is a great Victorian building, Reynards garage looks set to go, and King's Square has been completely ruined with that horrible, tacky paving - so why all the procrastination about Stonebow? It's one of the few buildings in York that should be wrecked! Pull it down, for heaven's sake!
The council has approved the demolition of Burnholme WMC, which is a great Victorian building, Reynards garage looks set to go, and King's Square has been completely ruined with that horrible, tacky paving - so why all the procrastination about Stonebow? It's one of the few buildings in York that should be wrecked! Pull it down, for heaven's sake! rking1977
  • Score: 0

12:14pm Thu 17 Apr 14

Pinza-C55 says...

"While the tower is empty" is the key phrase. Although I am no demolition expert I think it would be feasible to demolish the tower only and do a tidy up on the remaining part. It would be cheaper than demolishing the whole thing.
"While the tower is empty" is the key phrase. Although I am no demolition expert I think it would be feasible to demolish the tower only and do a tidy up on the remaining part. It would be cheaper than demolishing the whole thing. Pinza-C55
  • Score: -3

12:19pm Thu 17 Apr 14

imassey says...

While I agree with the sentiments and wish that I could have been at the event last weekend, I'm afraid a letter like this is just an open invitation to the demolish/bulldoze/dy
namite it brigade in York.

I'm sure there are many things that could be done to the building - getting rid of the tower and providing a flat, open space while still retaining the existing businesses, with some sort of cosmetic alterations to the exterior would be my favourite - but one thing to bear in mind is that the majority aren't always right, just usually the most vocal.
While I agree with the sentiments and wish that I could have been at the event last weekend, I'm afraid a letter like this is just an open invitation to the demolish/bulldoze/dy namite it brigade in York. I'm sure there are many things that could be done to the building - getting rid of the tower and providing a flat, open space while still retaining the existing businesses, with some sort of cosmetic alterations to the exterior would be my favourite - but one thing to bear in mind is that the majority aren't always right, just usually the most vocal. imassey
  • Score: -1

3:54pm Thu 17 Apr 14

greenmonkey says...

"Hopefully there will be a architectural competition for this sensitive location, with the people of York having a say in the selection of the winning design" This was a key point of the whole discussion - it shouldn't just be left to CYC officers and James to stitch up a behind the scenes deal with a developer, especially when you consider the operators and customers of the music venues currently in the building. Of course legally you just give them notice, but then where else in York City Centre will you get a cheap large venue, for up and coming bands that don't draw big enough audiences for places like the Barbican/ Opera House? The city centre needs to have facilities apart from McDonalds for 14 -18 year olds, not just nightclubs catering for adult age students.
"Hopefully there will be a architectural competition for this sensitive location, with the people of York having a say in the selection of the winning design" This was a key point of the whole discussion - it shouldn't just be left to CYC officers and James to stitch up a behind the scenes deal with a developer, especially when you consider the operators and customers of the music venues currently in the building. Of course legally you just give them notice, but then where else in York City Centre will you get a cheap large venue, for up and coming bands that don't draw big enough audiences for places like the Barbican/ Opera House? The city centre needs to have facilities apart from McDonalds for 14 -18 year olds, not just nightclubs catering for adult age students. greenmonkey
  • Score: 1

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree