I have spent part of the day cogitating as to what would be the best possible use of the Custom House if the City is not going to allow it to be turned into a luxury hotel.
It happens to coincide with my visit yesterday to the new Oslo Public Library which was absolutely packed with people at 9 o’clock in the morning who were using the library not as somewhere to read books, but as somewhere to work in a good public environment, rather than closeted in a small claustrophobic environment at home.
This echoes what has happened at the British Library where the public spaces are packed with people using the desks and café, but not the actual library facilities.
So, my suggestion for the Custom House is that it should be used to support the new world of work which it happens is not dissimilar from the late seventeenth century coffee house: privatised and individualised, not dragooned by organisations; highly sociable; fuelled by coffee. It would mean that the public rooms would find a new use, but one appropriate to the City.