Tuesday, 24 August 2010

London Skyline (part)

Strong winds today kept the rain clouds moving, which gave me a chance to grab this shot of a small but important part of the London skyline. Double-click on the photo to see it at its best.

Working from left to right, the first notable building is marked by the dome of the Old Bailey, officially The Central Criminal Court in England, dating from 1902. You can’t see the famous scales of justice in this shot but you can read all about the building here.

The large green roof is on the Faraday Building, 1933. Named after Michael Faraday it became the telephone centre of the world with the opening of the international telephone exchange. It is now BT’s main telecommunications data centre serving the City. The construction of the Faraday Building obscured the riverside view of St Paul’s Cathedral and lead directly to the legislation protecting the views of St Paul's that has been used to thwart large buildings being erected around the various vantage points to see the cathedral.

Directly in front of it is the dull concrete block known as Baynard House, another BT building, now in a very poor state.

Next to that is the red brick City of London School 1987, designed by Thomas Meddings, an old pupil of the school acting in his role as City of London architect. What a fantastic setting the boys have, looking out onto the river.

Dominating everything is the stunning St Paul’s Cathedral by Sir Christopher Wren (1677-1710). Read all about the several buildings on this site, the Great Fire, and Wren's major work here.

Old it may be, but St Paul's has its own website here, with a welcome from the Dean, and better photographs than I could ever take. For my money it is the most significant building in the whole of London. I don’t know why filmmakers always portray London with that clichéd shot of the Houses of Parliament, with a red bus in the foreground. St Paul’s deserves to be seen as the symbol of London.

Running across the foreground is the Milennium Bridge. Opened in June 2000, closed days later, and then re-opened 2002. Still known as the Wobbly Bridge it was designed by Norman Foster, sculptor Anthony Caro and Arup. Arup have an excellent site dedicated to the bridge project here.

Peeping over the top right hand corner of St Paul’s is one of the three Barbican Towers: Lauderdale tower, built in 1974 and designed by architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon.

There is nothing like the Barbican Estate in scale, intelligence, ingenuity, quality, urban landscaping and sheer abstract artistry anywhere else in Britain, perhaps even the world. That is critic Jonathan Glancey writing in the Time Out 2007 Critic's Review of the Barbican - worth a look, here.

Finally, over to the right is a group of less distinguished city buildings, none of which in my view will match those above.

You too can enjoy this wonderful view, from the 6th floor café at Tate Modern – surely the best “view with a drink” in London.

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