Skip to content
CityLab
Design

A 1980s Grocery Store Is London’s Latest Protected Building

The building, designed by architect Nicholas Grimshaw, is the first-ever supermarket to appear on the National Heritage List for England.
Nicholas Grimshaw's 1988 supermarket, now a protected building.
Nicholas Grimshaw's 1988 supermarket, now a protected building.© Historic England

Following an announcement this week, Britain has a new, officially historic building: a 1980s grocery store. A North London supermarket, designed by architects Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners and completed in 1988, was just given a place on the National Heritage List for England, becoming the first supermarket ever to make the cut. The listing means the store will be protected from demolition or substantial changes to its “special architectural or historic interest.”

The U.K. already has a track record of preserving fairly recent, humble buildings, but even so, a newish outlet of a chain (the grocer Sainsbury’s) is a departure. So was Historic England right to protect a type of building which it acknowledges is usually “purely functional and architecturally uninspiring”?