Tracey Emin Angers Londoners with Plans to Demolish Listed Building in the East End

Emin wants to build a Chipperfield-designed home in Spitalfields.

Tracey Emin Photo: Ian Derry Via

Tracey Emin.
Photo: Courtesy of Ian Derry via The Evening Standard.

British artist Tracey Emin has been a staunch advocate of preserving the heritage of London’s East End, where she set up her studio years ago. But now, the YBA who’s come of age is changing her tune.

In 2008, Emin bought a 17th century £4 million building called Tenter Ground in Spitafields, a once-scruffy area next to the finance district, where prices have sky-rocketed in the last decade due to gentrification.

Back then, Emin spoke of her plans to restore the building to use as her studio, and of hoping to contribute to hindering the wave of commercial development taking over the area, which won her the support of local residents and heritage activists.

But it seems like Emin has had a change of heart. The Guardian reports that she’s launched a new proposal to demolish an adjacent 1920s complex in Bell Lane to erect a new, David Chipperfield-designed home.

Tracey Emin's Tenter Ground, her studio in Spitafields<br>Photo: via Capital Stone Renovation

Tracey Emin’s Tenter Ground, her studio in Spitafields.
Photo: via Capital Stone Renovation.

The new plans haven’t gone down too well. The local council of Tower Hamlets, which will assess her proposal in September, claims to have received 25 letters of objection and zero in support.

Emin has come up with a creative argument to buttress her controversial plan. In her 82-page proposal, published on the Tower Hamlets council’s website, she admits that the listed building at Bell Lane “makes a positive contribution to the conservation area.” However, she argues, the public benefits of the new proposal could outweigh “the harm to the conservation area arising from the removal of the existing building.”

To support Emin’s quest for adjoining the live-work spaces, the proposal argues that for artists, “the boundary between living and working is generally blurred” and that the new building would allow the artist to work in private next to the workshop studios where her assistants work.

“The East End Preservation Society is dismayed by Emin’s disregard for this much loved locally listed building,” a spokesperson from the organization told the Guardian. “For someone who has actively fought for East End heritage in the past this is beyond understanding and only suits her own short-sighted needs.”

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