In 1970 the Welbeck Street Car Park opened to provide parking spaces and storage for the new Debenhams flagship store on Oxford Street, London. The multi-storey car park, designed by Michael Blampied & Partners, attracted a lot of coverage from the architectural press. In 1971 Building magazine wrote: “Blampied’s design put aesthetic quality and structural ingenuity on a par with functionality creating a striking yet eminently practical building.”
Less then 50 years later it was sold to developers Shiva Hotels for redevelopment and after several attempts for this remarkable building to be listed, which were turned down, the inevitable happened and on 10 August Westminster Council approved its demolition.
After being heralded as “striking yet eminently practical”, the car park has since been described by KM Heritage Consultants as having “no particular aesthetic significance and its harsh geometry and alien appearance detracts from the setting of nearby heritage assets”.
I disagree. In fact, I love the harsh geometry and alien appearance, it’s bold, unique and simply beautiful. So, since March 2017 I have been regularly photographing it to document its last few months. This is my ode to Welbeck Street, an ode that will sadly soon become an elegy.
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