Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Changing Architectural Face of London

While walking to Waterloo station one day last week, back from an evening talk at the Royal College of Surgeons in Lincoln's Inn, the huge changes in London's buildings that are taking place in C21 became apparent.

Working in Pimlico London  SW1 does not give  much opportunity for overall views of London although the tower block at Vauxhall  with which an crashing helicopter almost collided a few weeks back, is visible and quite unattractive in my view.  However further east, walking over Waterloo Bridge in the still light evening a couple of days ago provided   a far fuller picture.

I am not sure whether to like or loathe the new London buildings' panorama. Many of the long established and some less long established structures and buildings are really appealing and make for refreshing viewing. The Houses of Parliament and St Pauls for example but also the National Theatre (which I know is also loathed by a few) the Royal Festival Hall, Hayward Gallery, the London Eye, the New Tate and even a new fangled lift-off circus tower near the soon to be re developed Shell Centre, are positively eye catching. The Thames itself and the  various ferries, boats and barges that travel up and downstream are  great parts of the overall picture as are the railway bridges over the Thames alongside which it is fascinating to walk on the closely adjacent foot bridges as the trains rumble by.

Personally though I am not so sure about some other new architecture that is rising almost higgledy piggledy in and near the City. The Cheesegrater, the   Walkie Talkie  and the Shard for example, do not at least at first sight appeal to me although the views from the top of the Shard are spectacular. Yet I have to admit that the overall vista and views while walking over Waterloo Bridge at about sunset were very  uplifting and presumably not only for me but also for the dozens of people, many but not all of whom, seemed to be tourists, who were busily  standing staring and photographing.

It is said that the initial reaction in Paris to the Eiffel tower in 1889 was quite negative  yet now it is a much loved   and visited by many,  attraction in Paris so may be my own reaction to some of this modern architecture is similar to that of the C19 Parisians.

However, despite not finding many of the new buildings at all attractive, the huge attraction of the fast developing  architecture at present is the feeling of dynamism it imparts rather than the spectacle created. Certainly the excitement of fast  change appears to  appeal to many other people as well as yours truly.

Even so I still find the St George Wharf tower and the MI5/6 buildings at Vauxhall quite unattractive.

Perhaps the new American Embassy building soon to be built on the south of the river again opposite Pimlico will add a little more grace and beauty to the SE1 side of London.

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