Post-modern pumping station given Grade II* listed status

The Isle of Dogs Pumping Station. Picture: JAMES DAVIES/HISTORIC ENGLAND

The Isle of Dogs Pumping Station. Picture: JAMES DAVIES/HISTORIC ENGLAND - Credit: Copyright Historic England Archi

A striking post-modern pumping station has been given Grade II* listed status – despite being only three decades old.

The Isle of Dogs Storm Water Pumping Station was designed by John Outram and built between 1986 and 1988 for Thames Water.

Still in use today, it is the first example of Outram’s style and remains one of his best-known buildings. The pumping station’s style returns to the tradition of impressive municipal pumping stations which largely came to an end in the 1930s.

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

“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.”

Just eight per cent of buildings in England have either Grade I or Grade II* listed status, which highlights their importance and makes sure any future changes do not result in the loss of their significance.

Mr Outram said of the pumping station’s unique design: “The oldest architecture I ever visited was the painted caves of 20,000-year old Lascaux.

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“Decoration is the origin and essence of architecture. It can mediate, in the theatre of a built room or a built city, the epiphany of a meaning.

“I aimed to invent that ‘meaning’ and confirm those epiphanic techniques.”

Post-Modernism represents an important strand of late twentieth-century architecture and cultural heritage.

Now that these buildings are starting to come of age, and are over 30 years old, Historic England is assessing the most significant examples of the movement for listing. John Outram’s pumping station is the first building to be listed as part of this project.

The announcement was made as part of the London Festival of Architecture.

Director Tamsie Thomson said: “I’m delighted that the Isle of Dogs Pumping Station has been listed.

“The listing system is a brilliant mechanism for capturing our historic and architectural memories. John Outram’s Pumping Station is a brilliant example of post-modernism in one of the fastest-changing parts of our city.”