Keywords:GRP; United Kingdom; heritage listing; documentation; prototype, GRP, United Kingdom, heritage listing, documentation, prototype
From the 1950s to 1970s a handful of architects and designers developed the use of glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) for external building skins that expressed the nature and possibilities of the material. External panels were designed as non-structural interchangeable cladding and also as structural folded plates and shells.
Many GRP buildings were designed as temporary structures and have long since disappeared. Some have survived and, in England, a few have been recognised with listed status for their architectural quality. At about fifty years of age the condition of polymeric components, such as external panels, fixings and joints, is beginning to present new problems in conservation. The case studies in this paper indicate that early estimates for the design life of GRP buildings and components have been surpassed, and that a range of approaches is available and necessary for their conservation.
Innovative plastic buildings and components also remain at risk of damage and demolition from a lack of awareness of their existence and value by heritage protection bodies.