Ibex House, London

Standing on the east side of Minories in Central London, less than half a mile north of the Tower of London, stands the Ibex House, a impressive-looking 1930s office block. The building is in the Streamlined Moderne style of Modernist architecture, popularised by the Odeon Cinema chain, but used here for a commercial building. Ibex House was designed by the architectural practice of Fuller, Hall and Foulsham. Today, the practice is one of the lesser known of the period. Fuller, Hall and Foulsham also designed Blenstock House in Cental London, located at the junction of Blenheim Street and Woodstock Street just off Oxford Street, home to the auction house Bonhams.

Ibex House occupies a large rectangular plot on Minories, with an extended H-shaped footprint. The building extends for approximately 40 metres on Minories, and for around 100 metres along Haydon (to the north) and Portsoken Street (to the south). Ibex House is built around a structural steel frame, with a western and eastern core providing a space for lifts and staircases. The building ranges over eleven storeys, with a basement level. The top three storeys of the central section on the building on its east-west alignment are stepped back successively, with just the top storey stepped back on its east and west elevations.

The exterior of Ibex House is clad in distinctive black faience for its lower storeys and buff faience above. Each storey features black metal framed windows that form continuous horizontal bands of glazing. The ground floor on the west, north and south elevations of the building has a continuous projecting canopy. Each elevation has a projecting central block, forming a distinctive vertical element. On Minories the entire central block is clad in black faience and has a narrow, full-height window, topped with a rectangular key-stone lintel. Along Haydon and Portsoken Street the central block is more dramatic. Its comprises a glazed, curved window beneath a projecting canopy roof.

Completed as an office building in 1937, Ibex House offers 200,000 square feet of space and is a remarkable surviving large 1930s office building in London. The skyline of London is continual changing, with new buildings replacing old. With more office space required, and less ground space overall, developers are building skyward, with tall, glass-clad skyscrapers. This is at the expenses of London's older building stock, which is being torn down to make way for modern developments. Ibex House is the most substantial, remaining commercial building of the period in central London.

Ibex House was awarded Grade II listed status on 9 March 1982. Perhaps such a relatively early listing, less than fifty years after it was built, removed the threat of potential demolition that affected many other commercial buildings. Fuller, Hall and Foulsham's Blenstock House was awarded Grade II listed status on 15 December 2009.

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Posted by Richard Coltman on Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A celebration of Modernist architecture in Britain