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A Blast From The Past - Building Sights

Those old enough, and with good enough memories, may remember a series of short television programmes shown on the BBC called Building Sights that ran through the 80s and 90s. Now thanks to the technology of iPlayer you can once again catch them.

Some of the programmes act as veritable time capsules for their era. One episode features Jools Holland in all his Britpop resplendence at Canary Wharf in 1996 where One Canada Square stands alone. Future plans are alluded to that show two other towers but the estate is shown in its post late 80s recession form.

Even more interestingly is the look Stephen Bayley takes at Alexander Fleming House in Elephant and Castle. Now known as Metro Central Heights, the building was facing an eighties-style makeover of reflective glass that would turn it from a modernist masterpiece into a place of work for yuppies. Contemporary events had the Odeon Cinema that stood on part of the site being demolished before it could receive historic building protection and Bayley argues persuasively that Alexander Fleming House is one of Goldfinger's best designs, and worthy of being listed. It was finally given this status on the 9th of July 2013 having survived more through luck than judgement.

Other buildings covered include Wood Street Police Station, a modern classical police station in the City of London designed by McMorran and Whitby, Goldfinger's monument Trellick Tower which is shown pre-restoration complete with a ruined laundrette and the point made that if only tower blocks such as these were properly maintained they would be a good place to live - something born out by the present popularity of the structure. Richard Rogers visits the Alton Estate, the Lloyd's Building is looked at it all its glory, and the incredibly modest Janet Street-Porter who has curated the programmes for BBC4, can't resist covering her own house in a 1989 episode.

All the programmes appear to be on BBC iPlayer permanently, so watch them at your convenience.

Article Related buildings:

One Canada Square

One Canada Square
Metro Central Heights

Metro Central Heights
Trellick Tower

Trellick Tower
Canary Wharf in 1996
Canary Wharf in 1996