Friday, 26 August 2011

Soon to be gone

There's always this strange thing that occurs when you live in a city, and it's that amnesiac feeling when new buildings are being completed around you, and it becomes almost impossible to remember the building that stood on the site previously, even if you passed it almost every single day. We could probably draw lessons about 'homeliness' perhaps, about how the immediate environment is always present to hand and thus taken as permanent, even if the building before us is only a year or two old. There are innumerable buildings that have gone up in the time I've lived in London, where upon encountering them for the first time, amid the revulsion of yet another rubbish new building being inflicted on us one suddenly senses a loss, not of the object itself, but more of the ability to consider or remember it.

With that in mind, here are a few buildings that I have begun to notice are about to be lost.

London Bridge Station

This deliriously dreary space frame roof is set to be removed as part of the Shard redevelopment. This was very much one of the first buildings that really put me on to how sad and disheveled a space frame could look, on the various occasions I sat gloomily under its pale light, waiting to be taken away somewhere.

Milestone House

This rather unremarkable bit of Mini-Mies is rendered fascinating by the fact that it holds the 'London Stone', a rock of great historical and mythical status, although for people like me it's most interesting because it features in Keiller's London, when it inspires Robinson to declare the No.15 a sacred bus and bus route. This is especially poignant for me as I lived for a number of years on the route of the 15, so I saw the stone frequently as I made my slow way back home. The fictional sacred-ness of the 15 is understandable, as my experiences of the bus were almost the perfect example of the idea of London as a world city of hard workers from everywhere and anywhere - I've never heard as many different languages being spoken in one enclosed space as I did on the No15 heading back out east on wet and cold december evenings. What's going to happen to this building is that (apparently) Fosters are going to knock the building down, and relocate the stone into their unfathomably ugly Walbrooke building next door, at which point all sacred-ness will be lost forever.

4&6 Broadgate

And of course, planning permission has been granted for MAKE's terrifying bulky block building for UBS, with sardine-stacked traders piled into massive floor plates well over 100m long. In drawings the new building begins to resemble an old 19th century mill factory, with innumerable posh yobs getting through those harsh early years on the vast trading floors before they can jack it all in to start an infantilised organic food company, chirping on and on about their 'yummy bits'.

1 comment:

MM Jones said...

An old space frame like that, the lighting both harsh and dim, looks eerie, almost like an attic ceiling covered cobwebs.