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Dear Boris

What on earth have you been doing tampering with our skylines?

Published on December 7th 2011.


Dear Boris

SKYLINE massacres.

Not so much a facelift, as a face plant, face haulage. London is looking different. Overnight the old lady has had some piercings and implants, dental reconstruction. How come, Boris? How did you let this happen? It ain’t right.

Look up and you see this new horizon of the capital, a tough vision – black metal boxes, a swathe of unremitting concrete that is the new Shoreditch cross rail station and above that the glass of triffidian skyscraper.

Suddenly those multi-million pound development schemes that have been hovering around for years have arrived, and well, the old girl does not look the same. For as long as I can remember the site of the new BoxPark at Shoreditch has just been a scaffolding, hoarding, scruffy down at heel piece of land that no one cared about since it was probably bombed out of existence in WW2. Now it is all neat and trim, like it has been groomed, had a concrete haircut.

Bp 

Look up and you see this new horizon of the capital, a tough vision – black metal boxes, a swathe of unremitting concrete that is the new Shoreditch cross rail station and above that the glass of triffidian skyscraper. It is not pretty. It is brutal, functional, invasive. Turn around and look at some of the older buildings on Kingsland Road and they were works of art in comparison: period, loved, decorated, proud even now in their dotage, some even with little placards denoting who built them or worked there because it mattered to them.

They have trellises, cornices, window frames, buttresses etc... This modern view is edgily anonymous, vapid, like they really wanted to build a motorway but were told they couldn’t. They really wanted to build on the moon, but they could not get there.

Boxpark3The ShardThe Shard zooms skyward like something from Elstree Film Studios, but it is overshadowing beautiful red brick arches of a style and panache that all of us know unmistakeably, uniquely as London. Which is the more beautiful?

The Gherkin hums, even throbs, in a crowd of older buildings like it has dropped out of a computer game. Even Tower Bridge gets a new vista down a long wall of mall black glass, like we did not want to sell that bridge to America so instead we built an American Midwestern mall beside it to compensate.

What are we supposed to make of these anonymous monoliths? They are machine style visions, architectural automatons, built by a generation of planners who seem to have missed the style and design moods of the last decades. Militarily uniform, utilitarian like an occupying army.

The people who did this did not leave any signature as to who they were or why they did this. It is an unsigned statement. Scary in a way.

No one has built a London building since WW2 with as much an aesthetic or elan as anything that was built before then. That is scary for other reasons too.

Do something Boris.

 

Yours architecturally,
The Last Cockney in Camden Town

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Drew SmithDecember 8th 2011.

Boris better do something or else

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