A storm water pumping station on the Isle of Dogs dubbed the Temple Of Storms has become the first post-modern building to be listed by Historic England.

John Outram’s pumping station in Stewart Street, Cubitt Town, has been given the protected status of a Grade II Star listing because of its architectural and historic interest after being commissioned by the Docklands Development Corporation (DDC) as part of its regeneration of east London during the 1980’s.

Historic England’s director of listing, Roger Bowdler, said: “John Outram’s pumping station was one of the most exciting buildings of the 1980s.

“Outram exulted in the panache and exuberance of Classicism, and gave this utterly functional structure an exterior that is unforgettable.”

According to Historic England , Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had decreed that everything above the ground should be built by the private sector and only the things below the ground – such as utilities and infrastructure – should be built by the public sector.

The pumping station was built between 1986 and 1988
Historic England has begun assessing post-modern buildings for their historic or architectural significance

The DDC’s chief architect Edward Hollamby saw the opportunity to subvert this when it came to pumping stations, and hired three leading architects to build the stations – Richard Rogers in Tidal Basin Road, Canning Town, Nicholas Grimshaw in Store Road, north Woolwich, and John Outram on the Isle of Dogs.

John Outram Associates built the station between 1986 and 1988 with a budget of £100,000 and on orders that the building could survive unmanned and last 100 years.

It was listed on June 20, with particular tribute paid to the “complex iconography” of the building’s design which, according to the listing , can be seen as “a classical temple or ark rising from a primeval sea or river”.

It says: “A phoenix is expressed in the building’s pediment and central fan, and the break in the pediment is a cave between the mountains out of which comes the sun and the river’s source (the fan); the coloured lines in the blue brickwork are ripples on the water.

Historic England paid tribute to the complex iconography of the building's design

“The columns are trees, and the battered walls are mountains, with the stripes in the brickwork the geological strata.”

Post-modernism emerged in British architecture during the late twentieth century. Now that post-modern buildings are coming to be over 30 years old, Historic England has began assessing which ones should receive listed status.

Roger Bowdler added: “It is vital that we keep the list up to date: it’s really exciting that we are starting to see the very best of post-modern buildings find their place among England’s finest works of architecture.”

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