London Wall West, the controversial development plan for the Barbican border, hasn’t gone away;

But neither has Barbican Quarter Action


Image JM Petroschka

Make your voice heard (and enter our competition)

Bastion House, so reminiscent of the revered Seagram Building in New York by Mies van der Rohe, is to be demolished along with the white-tiled Museum of London and the rotunda in the junction of London Wall at Aldersgate Street. The demolition could begin very soon.  If you haven’t already, now is your moment to take action to try to stop this, and there is a window of opportunity to act.

The Neighbourhood Consultation was due to expire on 31st January 2024 – quite unexpectedly, it has just been extended ‘until further notice’.  The termination deadline before action currently remains 14th March 2024


However, let’s not slip into any moments of complacency. Time doesn’t seem to be on the side of Bastion House and the former Museum of London building. The City of London Corporation, a local government authority tracing its history back more than 950 years, is in charge of the City of London, the ancient Roman city and now one of the world’s leading and most successful and prosperous financial centres. It has plans for a major redevelopment of what it has called London Wall West.  The plans indicate that we could soon find ourselves in the shadow of three overbearing office blocks between five and seventeen storeys with a range of ‘public realm’ improvements.

Retain, Reuse and Retrofit

Objecting to the Corporation’s plans is Barbican Quarter, a group of locals, lovers of the Barbican who aren’t, they say, opposed to redevelopment, just these plans.  The Barbican Quarter’s argument is to retain, reuse and retrofit the site, and they have the backing of the Twentieth Century Society taking up the challenge to save these buildings.

“Once demolished there is no turning back, a unique creation is lost for ever. Whilst some of these buildings (on the C20 Risk List) may need imaginative renewal, all are capable of inspiring and energising new uses. We need to make sure that none of these opportunities are missed. All ten of the 2023 buildings deserve to survive to make our lives richer and more interesting, the positive benefits of keeping them are immeasurable.”

Catherine Croft, director of the 20th Century Society

The City’s plans for 750,000 square feet of new office space release (according to the Barbican Quarter’s studies) a massive 45,000 tonnes of CO2 by the demolition of the existing buildings, and worst of all, this action doesn’t need to be approved for the City to begin to swing its wrecking ball.  The remaining tenants of Bastion had their marching orders at the end of March 2023, and by the Autumn, the Certificate of Immunity expired.  The City, which declared that it couldn’t find the original plans last year, disputes the objectors’ assessment of the carbon price to be paid by demolition and relies on its own Whole Life Carbon Assessment.



What’s hard to understand is the thinking behind the whole project – how could it possibly bring added value to the neighbourhood?  A few years ago a world-class music centre was on the cards for the Museum of London site. The original plan was that the Corporation would invest £288m in the project intended to add substance and kudos to its “Cultural Mile”. Part of that vision involved the Museum of London’s move to the Smithfield market, which is still going ahead. However, the post-pandemic landscape and a worldwide financial dip derailed plans for the new concert and music venue; the Corporation changed direction and decided it needed London Wall West, a massive commercial development. Take a look at the City’s plans to get a flavour of this vision of commercial paradise.


MoL from adjacent to Barber Surgeons Hall, a patch of ground, which, according to some pagans, has never ever been built upon.

Architecture critic Rowan Moore wrote The Museum of London: a fundamental clash as the City of London dreams on’  contrasting the objectors’ view that the cost in terms of lost architecture and release of CO2 should be to ‘retain, reuse and retrofit’ rather than to demolish and build what, in the eyes of the objectors, are office buildings that hark back to the old office culture, a utility that no longer exists.


Bastion House from the Barbican Highwalk

There are always people who object, and it’s not unreasonable to figure that a good number of the people who might be troubled by the Corporation’s plans are the residents of Mountjoy House and Thomas Moore House, the blocks of the Barbican nearest to the site of Bastion House and the Museum of London. That people facing years of noise and disturbance are concerned doesn’t make those concerns illegitimate, and the Corporation certainly hasn’t made that argument. Barbican Quarter has focused its objections on the need for very large office blocks and the carbon cost of demolishing Bastion House and constructing new buildings.



Image JM Petroschka 

It’s an accepted fact that offices are changing and are going to change more 

Everything changed after the pandemic. We know that hybrid working isn’t going away; you don’t need studies to see that – simply walk around the City on a Friday afternoon. It’s an accepted fact that offices are changing and are going to change more.  An office built along pre-pandemic lines may be a costly white elephant. Few people live in the City of London, just over 8000, businesses and workers have to choose to commute to the City. Shouldn’t the Corporation, striving to keep the City relevant, be creating tomorrow’s office?

We must never forget that it was the venerable Corporation of London that was responsible for the building of the Barbican, a bold and modern design that has become a glorious globally-known icon. It’s a spirit and imagination that few institutions could match, and in ensuring that the City of London and the environs of the wonderful Barbican remain a centre where people and businesses want to be, those same animating characteristics are needed as much as ever.

Photo Competition

We’re looking for your photos of Bastion House and a selection to which we’ll post on our instagram and here. Acclaimed photographer Richard Davis will judge the winning photograph and the photographer will receive two Bastion House mugs

Send your photo to by WeTransfer with your name and email, or initially via instagram to @barbican_city_of_london

Bastion House mug by Absolutely ANF Adam Nathanial Furman


TWITTER @barbicanquarter

INSTAGRAM @barbicanquarteraction


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