Marco Polo House

Marco Polo House

Comment:
In the awkward wastelands of Battersea, with only the power station standing out, Ian Pollard’s late-eighties postmodern take on the palatial office – a very ’80s way of thinking! – is to be demolished (or ’redeveloped’ as planners like saying – making the waste of perfectly good, recent architecture sound positive), making way for nameless and bland mid-rise apartments. Some deride Marco Polo House for being ’nonsense’, but if you look closer you can see everything that was good and ironic about the decade of excess, marble coated in a striking and iconic structure with a colour scheme that fits in with the area (echoed neatly by Silver Birch trees in the forecourt). Borrowing roof detail from the Sony building in New York and filled with typical postmodern flourishes, it’s strange to think that a building which was described as ’architecturally magnificent’ as recently as 1991 is now seen as junk. Will we regret this just as we’ve regretted the loss of victorian and edwardian buildings decades later? I think so…

Detail:
Iconic, upmarket marble and glass postmodern building finished in white and grey marble and black tinted glass, which symbolises late ’80s-early ’90s success and style, originally built for satellite broadcaster BSB at around £26 million, who moved in to the luxury offices and TV studios in late 1989, was since sold to Sky (following a merger) and then QVC, the shopping channel, who remained there until 2012. Also used by The Observer as offices, now temporarily used by an employment agency as offices for those on the Jobcentre related scheme ’The Work Programme’

Due for complete demolition in 2013 as the area is to be redeveloped as luxury apartments, less than 26 years after its creation. Unfortunately a victim of foreign-investor led planning which only thinks of commercial gain, this will surely be missed in a couple of decades time when we realise we are destroying a whole era of well-built and iconic structures (and the new replacements are drab and characterless).

Architect Ian Pollard’s building – seen as luxury at the time – since became ridiculed by some as public tastes changed, had designer glass lifts and grey and white themed designer furniture inside to match the outer theme. Named Marco Polo after one of the original occupier’s satellites MarcoPolo1.