Category Londos’s Contemporary Architecture

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Meetings with buildings

Architecture is commonly presented as an orderly, linear narrative. But for those of you keen to experience it (rather than read about it) architecture is a more complex mix that simultaneously comes to you from many directions, both literally and metaphorically. This is especially true in London, where the enthusiast has to be prepared to have a cacophony of historical periods, tastes, values, constructions, and scales thrust upon them all at once. You are called upon to cope — and it’s fun. As an architectural tourist you will have to piece together a puzzle when the individual parts are mixed up, when some are damaged, altered, added to or otherwise disguised, when some are missing and others don’t fit...

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London’s contemporaneity

Photo: Nigel Young / Foster & Partners

A principal feature of London’s contemporary architecture scene is the indistinct salience of its leading edge — by which I mean a curious quality of prominence enjoying a significance out of proportion to the presence of the few exemplars which establish a special status. There is a momentary fuss, a clamour, an excitement and debate; and then life moves on. Suddenly, yesterday’s hot – properties become absorbed into the generality of London’s architectural fabric; their salience has evaporated...

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London’s architectural geography

London's architectural geography

There is an engaging beginning to John Summerson’s Georgian London in which this historian imagines that he takes us high above the Thames valley, looking down upon the metropolis as an historical unfolding from twin historic foci: the distinct patterning of an artefactual growth that engulfs the landscape described as “the product of a collective, unconscious will”. Suddenly, from this ‘air view’within an accelerated and historically characterised time-frame, one apprehends the basis of London’s contemporary architectural geography. There is pattern. It has coherence. And even as a generalisation, it makes sense.

Summerson’s introductory remarks have always struck me as one of the more important aspects of his book...

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