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Classical architecture in the City

Luca

Cyburbian
Messages
1,187
Points
21
Some very interesting threads on this forum… I used to frequent it often but in recent years had focused on other activities. My last thread was in 2008, abouy Barcelona!!

Anyhow, given the interest shown in architectural history and form, may I point out a recently added website on this subject that I am involved with.

It’s called CLAXITY.COM and covers the classical streetscape of the City of London.

We will be adding a lot more material over time, of course. Hope you enjoy it.

Meanwhile, here's a picture you might enjoy. It is the retained facade of the old Central Telegraph Office, in the City, now wrapped around the (newly built) offices of a major bank.

DSCF2182 reduced.JPG
 

Luca

Cyburbian
Messages
1,187
Points
21
Lots more new posts on CLAXITY.COM, hope you enjoy it.

This beaut was built for the Scottish Provident insurance company.

24722
 

Maister

Chairman of the bored
Staff member
Moderator
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28,191
Points
71
I've often wondered how Londoners regard the....how shall I put this...mix of architectural styles found in near proximity throughout the city. I would imagine some are resentful of the more modern additions to the skyline, such as the Gherkin or the Shard in contrast to older and smaller iconic fixtures. In fact, how are skyscrapers in general regarded in this traditionally low, but sprawling urban environment?
 

Luca

Cyburbian
Messages
1,187
Points
21
Hi Maister. Naturally, there are many different views. Among what we might call casual observers there is some regret at the destruction, especially spot-war or undamaged or marginally damaged older buildings. The diversity of styles, however, is not generally perceived as negative (but I've never taken / seen a proper poll on this; it's just my impression based on what people say).

London is a very 'fashion-forward', progressive city so, as you might imagine, most younger people tend to like the iconic modern buildings like the Shard, Gherkin, etc. A rather 'catholic' take on architecture, generally.

From my point of view, while stylistic consistency can really make an area, for a very high-rent, continuously altered dense area like the City of London, the sometimes wild juxtaposition of styles is visually stimulating, notwithstanding that many post-WWII buildings are rubbish.

I will soon be posting on Fleet Street, on the website. It's difficult to imagine a more diverse set of urban buildings. Basically every style and period from 1600s onward is represented there.
 

Luca

Cyburbian
Messages
1,187
Points
21
This is the door surround / frontispiece of Lloyd's Avenue House. The façade is one of hundreds such, relatively anonymous works that tend to go unremarked but add so much visually to our City of London. This is the sort of building that set me off producing the CLAXITY website in the first place. Note the quality of the detailing.

DSCF2372.JPG
 

Gedunker

Moderating
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Moderator
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11,342
Points
38
I think one of the issues that confront many preservationists is a slavish desire to be repetitive when trying to fit new architecture next to old or historic architecture. I urge them to be sympathetic to scale and massing and fenestration, but not so much so that a lay person can't tell whether a building is new or whether it is historic. Then sometimes, I just want to scream "It's the 21st Century, dammit, build something modern!" and to hell with being sympathetic to the existing context.

No one told Wren or Wright they had to follow design guidelines, right?
 

Luca

Cyburbian
Messages
1,187
Points
21
I would think contextual respect is a relative, not an absolute. Where circumstances have regaled us with a well-preserved, coherent, unified area of period architecture I think that it makes sense to avoid spoiling that.

Conversely, with a few exceptions, the City of London has undergone nearly constant change , leading to a great deal of diversity in style and scale; just take a Google Maps walk down Fleet Street!
I think in such a context, the emphasis should be on good urban arrangement, because there is no Fleet-Street-style, per se.

Where I would probably differ from Gedunker is in terms of screamingly dissonant additions to period buildings. I'll give you two examples:
- The 1960s addition to the Chartered Accountants Institute: Brutalist mass stuck upon Edwardian 'Wrenaissance'.

CAI.jpg

- The third-storey extension of the Royal Exchange; not distinguishable form the original by a layperson (or indeed most experts who don't know its history).

RE.jpg

Should the ease of visual period identification (which serves what ultimate purpose?) supersede visual harmony?
 

Maister

Chairman of the bored
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Moderator
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28,191
Points
71
View attachment 24751

Should the ease of visual period identification (which serves what ultimate purpose?) supersede visual harmony?
In my opinion, no, but then I'm not a purist.

On a slight tangent, you can see the marble is a bit lighter colour on the upper level. A similar thing can be noted on the Washington monument, where a third or so of the way up the colour of the marble changes. Construction halted for 30 years and when it resumed the original quarry was no longer in operation and marble had to be obtained from a new source.

1566998940928.png
 

Luca

Cyburbian
Messages
1,187
Points
21
In a way, a nicely subtle way to both show the difference without making it nasty.
 

Luca

Cyburbian
Messages
1,187
Points
21
Child & Co., now part of RBS, has been at this Fleet Street location since the 1600s and in this building since 1880.
A building of outstanding symmetry and clarity as well as very delicately balanced scale” by John Gibson.

Childs-Co-01-1.jpg

See more here.
 

Luca

Cyburbian
Messages
1,187
Points
21
Our ‘Classical City' website is now up to 7 'location' posts and 27 building posts. The latest being a brief illustrated article about Bishopsgate.

Gibson’s 1865 headquarters for the National Provincial Bank is generally the most highly regarded classical building along Bishopsgate, on of the relatively rare Grade I -listed non-religious, non-institutional buildings in the City.

DSC_0311.JPG

Hope you enjoy it!
 

Maister

Chairman of the bored
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28,191
Points
71
Wow! Do you know if they periodically clean the intricacies on the capitals and friezes?
 

Luca

Cyburbian
Messages
1,187
Points
21
They do indeed. Although fine particulates air pollution remains elevated in London, the amount of gross particulates (soot) is very reduced so a thorough clean lasts well over a decade. Up to the last third of the 20th century the soot was so bad that they rarely bothered to clean them at all. Many/ most stone-clad buildings were in Portland
Or other porous stone and positively charcoal in colour. From the 1990s they started scrubbing many major buildings and that literally changed the colour of London. I can still remember when they cleaned the facade of St Pauls; in the afternoon it shone so brightly it almost hurt one’ eyes.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
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Moderator
Messages
13,643
Points
53
I experienced a similar sensation when I was in NYC about 3 years ago and walked by St. Patrick's. Since it was cleaned it just shone.
 

Maister

Chairman of the bored
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28,191
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71
What can you tell us about this behemoth?

 

Luca

Cyburbian
Messages
1,187
Points
21
Ah!, that's the building shown in the very first post. it is the former Telegraph Office, belonging to the Royal Mail (then known as the General Post Office) which used to run both the mail and telephones in the UK as well as part of the telegraph system..
Click on the hyperlink.

By pure chance, when I began creating this material, this was the very first building I researched, of all the dozens in the City.
 

Maister

Chairman of the bored
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
28,191
Points
71
Ah!, that's the building shown in the very first post. it is the former Telegraph Office, belonging to the Royal Mail (then known as the General Post Office) which used to run both the mail and telephones in the UK as well as part of the telegraph system..
Click on the hyperlink.

By pure chance, when I began creating this material, this was the very first building I researched, of all the dozens in the City.
I was 'google driving' around London and that building jumped out at me. I never made the connection it was the same building shown in the initial post, but from a different vantage point. Me is a big dummy.
 

Luca

Cyburbian
Messages
1,187
Points
21
Great place for virtual tourism, the City; high density of interesting buildings most of which you can only see from the outside anyhow.
 
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