We’re constantly told to look up, because we so often miss things. In the height of a technologically adept nation, our eyes gleam at screens of various sizes and we miss the core foundations and architectural elements in which a city was built upon. London is an architecturally diverse city where old meets new and modernistic meets banal.
Pass through Hoxton or along Brick Lane and there’s street art in every corner, every crevice and both high by the rooftops and low by the curb. Farringdon is full of old-warehouse’s and studios, whilst Bank is stone is brick. Around London Wall, tower great seventies-style blocks and in Westminster, English-Gothic styles embellish the landscape.
“Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.”-Frank Gehry
Do you ever look out for the modernists buildings which are attached to classical architecture? Do you ever wonder how concrete was filled into the centre of The Shard? Over time, the way we build as well as the facade of a building, has evolved. Across continents, throughout history and artistic styles, buildings have been adapted, changed, improved, been simplified and have been dramatically modernised. Daniel Burnham’s Flatiron building was once a skyscraper of New York at 21 floors, now, eighty-one floors short of the Empire State Building and 142 floor short of Burj Khalifa (Dubai). In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, it is assumed that by 2017, a 167-floored building at 1007 m, know as Kingdom Tower, will be completed.
A reinforced concrete and steel, all-glass façade, is now an architectural norm, whilst, for example, the Flatiron’s steel skeletal frame and detailed facade is a dying art. Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926), Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928), Frank Gehry (1929-) and Zaha Hadid (1950-) are notable names in the field. Architects are artists. Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia presents a vision which begun in 1882 and to this day, is incomplete (an estimated 2026 completion is set), however beautiful and opulent the earlier Basilica appeared to be, it presents two styles; the latter is somewhat more simplistic, less intricate. Now in architecture, we look to sustainability, green-roofs, advancing the human habitat. Our cities are becoming, or plan to become, cutting-edge. Gehry’s 8 Spruce Street, provides a fairly recent example of technical and technological advances in construction and craft, as well as something aesthetically contemporary, of a liveable space including the necessities of a fully inclusive habitat- The space is built upon an elementary school and in itself of seventy-six floors, contains favourable, but not necessary communal amenities.
Dining cabanas, pools, various fitness spaces, a screening room, children’s playroom, the “tweens’ den” and library; In addition to two public plazas and the New York Downtown Hospital space are but some of 8 Spruce Street’s amenities. (See a a post on the building here).
“Architecture is how the person places herself in the space. Fashion is about how you place the object on the person.”- Zaha Hadid
Architecture, as in any other art form, is personal. What attracts one eye, may repel that of another. But remembering to look up, and down and around, is what will takes us from our highly lit screens, to reality- the bricks and mortar which are built all around us.