Marcus Binney CBE, OBE Hon FRIBA FSA

Marcus Binney has been a guiding force for raising public awareness of European cultural heritage for over fifty years. His wide-reaching influence and inspiring leadership have revolutionised the protection and conservation of heritage in the United Kingdom and abroad.

© Natalie Mayer


Fifty years ago, historic buildings in the UK were being demolished at the rate of one per day. In 1975, in response to this drastic loss, Binney co-founded SAVE Britain’s Heritage, a group of architectural historians, journalists and planners, who are now recognised as one of the most effective and influential heritage organisations in the UK. Through SAVE, Binney helped begin a movement of direct action and media campaigning that alerted the public to the scale of the loss of built heritage in the UK, challenged governments’ understanding of the feasibility of rescue and re-use, and, ultimately, would help save innumerable buildings.

Among Binney’s noteworthy achievements is his contribution to updating legislation around heritage through campaigns and landmark rulings. Most recently, Binney mounted a successful appeal against the demolition of the Marks & Spencer department store on Oxford Street in London. The case, the first to place heritage and embodied carbon at the heart of a public inquiry, could set a precedent that will be of huge assistance to others seeking to save heritage buildings.


SAVE was also the first organisation to campaign for the introduction of the Thirty-Year Rule, which now makes outstanding post-war buildings in England and Wales eligible for listing. Among the other gems that have been saved are Smithfield and Billingsgate markets.

Marcus Binney has also had success in Poland, Spain, Germany, Russia and Italy, motivating and encouraging local heritage conservationists across the continent. His exceptional skill in careful persuasion, as well as his ability to bring together actors from a wide range of fields, including politicians and local authorities, is outstanding.

Notably, his work with the Moscow Architecture Preservation Society on the joint report Moscow “Heritage at Crisis Point” had a massive impact. It was one of the major strands of campaigning in Moscow that led to a sea change in attitudes to heritage in the post-Soviet era, and subsequently a huge reduction in demolitions.

In recognition of his services to heritage, Binney was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1983 and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2006.


Marcus Binney is a daring, courageous and fearless leader who has set the standard for heritage campaigning over the past 50 years. His activities and interests are in a diverse range of building types, truly spanning all across Europe. With a clear objective, he utilised the media very cleverly to change views on heritage and heritage reuse,” the Awards’ Jury said.

Binney can be described as a pollinator, successfully convincing and bringing stakeholders together, and acting as a skilled moderator among various groups with sometimes conflicting interests. He is a legal innovator, helping to change legislation to limit damage and setting legal precedents, who serves as a powerful example for heritage campaigners across Europe,” the Jury underlined.

Contact: Elizabeth Hopkirk, SAVE Britain’s Heritage | |