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Old November 10th, 2011, 05:03 PM   #821
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Hong Kong urbanism is not a bad thing, however skyscrapers (in general), for the most part, are ugly. Indeed even many Londons new talls are not that good - Willis is an ugly stump with a black top, Shards cladding seems to be dull and lifeless (I hope its just dirty) and if certain renders are anything to go by then Bishopsgate will be quite a horror too!
I agree that many skyscrapers are ugly, and that Willis is a stump (albeit a nicely detailed stump).

The Shard's cladding is great imo. The iron particles have been expensively removed from the glass so that it looks silvery even on dull overcast days. (Unlike so many others around the world that use cheap green-grey glass.) Yes it's dirty right now. Wait until they've finished it!

The Pinnacle is too early to say. Some renders make the detailing look a bit iffy, but for cladding quality we'll just have to wait and see.

Hong Kong's high-rise cityscape looks impressive when seen from up high, but it's not attractive to live in. That's why so many Hong Kongers emigrate to places like Britain, America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc. Living standards in HK are not that great, despite high GDP per capita, good job opportunities, good public services, and excellent food. Tiny flats and excessive urban density are what makes life in Hong Kong less attractive.
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I much prefer smaller scale architecture and continental Europe is very, very good at it (UK is too). Cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Hamburg, even good old Vilnius (shame Zahas Guggenheim is dead), are filled with gems, both big and small, and as such I dont think the tag of "museum" is justified. Besides I dont think skyscrapers are a prerequisite for a successful/exciting city.
I agree that European cities have great streets and architecture, and also that skyscrapers are not a prerequisite for an attractive city (though I do love them). However I also feel that too many European city centres are like urban museums. They barely took part in the C20th, and to the extent that they did, the results were often poor. They've more or less opted out of the C21st too, and the occasional landmark museum or gallery isn't enough to bring them to C21st life.

That's why I feel so privileged to live in contemporary London, with all it's old school charm and grandeur, yet also retaining the ambition to reach for the stars. I don't think any other city combines buildings like 122 Leadenhall and St Paul's in such close proximity. Paris, Moscow, and Istanbul have a comparable mix when you look at those cities as a whole, but they keep the modern stuff separate. The result is stagnated museum-city centres, with dry charmless modern business districts on the outskirts.

I think London is like imperial Rome at its height circa 200AD. It's arguably the world's greatest repository of architecture, with centuries of ambitious buildings piled up layer-upon-layer and cheek-by-jowl. Never forget how insanely lucky we are.
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Yes I do dream about "miles and miles of regimented and repetitive residential apartment buildings of 6-9 stories"
No thanks, it's monotonous. London's greenery and variety are a lot more attractive imo.
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Im not against suburbs. Every city has them...but please dont have them in city centre/inner city.
But London doesn't have them in the centre. The occasional (and I mean very occasional) small houses in the centre are usually old, preserved, and add wonderful variety to the urban landscape. There are no suburbs in central London. It looks and feels like what it is: by far the biggest, fastest, and most exciting city in Europe. Every other European city feels, small, slow, and provincial by comparison.
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Naples - I dont agree with you here, I found it to be a very exciting place filled with incredible architecture, the crime thing is overhyped too - the biggest threat there is to be short-changed. Sure outlaying areas, like Scampia, are dangerous, but then again Peckham and Elephant arent any better either. And yes pizza is indeed good.
Naples is fun to visit, and has a good setting around the bay, but architecturally it's very weak, especially when compared to Rome, Florence, Venice, etc. It's a city with a lot of problems that few hold up as a model. And you don't have to leave the central areas to find poverty and danger. Quartieri Spagnoli (Spanish Quarters) is a notorious haunt of the Camorra. And whilst these dark and dank streets do exert a kind of fascination, they're no model of an ideal city:



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Old November 10th, 2011, 05:22 PM   #822
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you put too much emphasis on the word "green". A lot, I would say majority, of urban grain outside zone one in London is not tight enough and disintegrates too quickly into unattractive environments, places that feel unwelcoming for the stranger and negate exploration. There are many green patches but most are unused and are merely fill in for awkward plots, expensively mowed by the council to what point I will never know. Green spaces are as important as built places when it comes to design and where one fails as it does far too much outside of zone one then the other can not make up for that.
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Old November 10th, 2011, 06:25 PM   #823
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^ You exaggerate the failure of green spaces outside zone 1. I grew up near Nonsuch Park in Cheam and it's every bit as nice as any in the centre (it lacks a boating lake, but otherwise it's actually nicer). And who doesn't love Hampstead Heath, Greenwich Park, Richmond Park, Bushy Park, etc? Even the more modest parks, gardens, garden squares, greens and commons are attractive.
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Old November 10th, 2011, 07:14 PM   #824
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The trouble with Masterplans is unless they reflect commercial realities they won't get built. If they wanted something less easily funded then needed to fund it themselves and then sell it later. E&C has had two schemes crash and burn, the council missed the property boom, it's got the stage that no developer will be interested in a complicated scheme no with the sites history.
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Old November 12th, 2011, 06:33 PM   #825
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Only small central European cities like Bratislava and Prague (etc) could be described as museums, although even they are moving forward. The big boys like Paris, Berlin, Hamburg, Madrid, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Rotterdam etc etc are well known for their exciting contemporary architecture and are anything but museums. Besides its not a bad thing to have well preserved cities. Indeed Londons most attractive (and most popular) areas are those that survived the attacks of the philistines, whereas the City, despite its few icons, is a collection of awful architecture.

Of course when one is too fond of the old then inevitably there emerges a danger of new builds being dull and thoroughly unimaginative, and indeed there are plenty of examples of this. Imaginative and adventurous designs should always be the ones that get the approval. This sort of architecture creates excitement while the dull creates ugliness. Perhaps there should be certain rules in the planning system to ensure that its Lloyds and not Plantation Places that get built?
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Old November 13th, 2011, 10:49 PM   #826
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Only small central European cities like Bratislava and Prague (etc) could be described as museums, although even they are moving forward. The big boys like Paris, Berlin, Hamburg, Madrid, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Rotterdam etc etc are well known for their exciting contemporary architecture and are anything but museums. Besides its not a bad thing to have well preserved cities. Indeed Londons most attractive (and most popular) areas are those that survived the attacks of the philistines, whereas the City, despite its few icons, is a collection of awful architecture.

Of course when one is too fond of the old then inevitably there emerges a danger of new builds being dull and thoroughly unimaginative, and indeed there are plenty of examples of this. Imaginative and adventurous designs should always be the ones that get the approval. This sort of architecture creates excitement while the dull creates ugliness. Perhaps there should be certain rules in the planning system to ensure that its Lloyds and not Plantation Places that get built?
paris is stuck in the last century other than LD and is a shithole out of the centre so is rotterdam and berlin is a dump for the most part although it has revitalised itself in recent times.Dont belive the Hype.
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Old November 14th, 2011, 12:18 AM   #827
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I dont need to believe anything, Ive been there and they are neither dumps nor shitholes.
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Old November 14th, 2011, 03:12 PM   #828
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Boris is trying to stop new skyscrapers in London! The new London View Management Framework is an absolute disaster:
http://www.london.gov.uk/consultatio...ment-framework

It is the most ridiculous document I have ever read! If this is implemented most new tall buildings will be banned.

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Old November 14th, 2011, 03:40 PM   #829
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Sardinianboy goes too far, but his main points stand. Central Paris is a museum. I used to live there, and recently visited again. Virtually nothing had changed in years (in stark contrast to central London). La Defense is dry and charmless. Paris's suburbs do concentrate massive social problems and are, on average, considerably less attractive than London's suburbs.

I also agree that Rotterdam is hardly an example of good urban planning. The new residential high-rises must be the ugliest in the world. I haven't seen any really good buildings coming out of that city.

I rather like Berlin, but, as with Rotterdam, I don't see it as a serious contender with London at all. It simply doesn't have the economy. Most of Berlin's new buildings are built to a highly restrictive code intended to retain the scale and consistent density of C19th European urbanism (though architects are free to add their own details). This has resulted in tons of new buildings like those proposed for Tottenham Court Road's Crossrail site, that many on this forum hate so much. Berlin certainly doesn't have such exciting projects as London.

And what do you mean only Prague and Bratislava can be described as museum cities? Nearly all attractive European city centres are almost entirely preserved, with very little contemporary architectural action. Are you honestly telling me that the centres of Rome, Venice, Florence, Bruges, Carcassonne, Munich, Dubrovnik, St Petersburg, Vienna, etc, are all development free-for-alls where you can build Shards, 122 Leadenhalls, or even London Eyes at will?

And yes London's smarter western districts are worth preserving, but even those areas have crappy concrete buildings that can be replaced by something new and cool. And the City may be a messy jumble of architectural styles, but it's an immensely interesting jumble. The development of 7-day shopping, more hotels, residential buildings, etc, is also seeing the City's urban life diversify at last. Central London as a whole is unparalleled as the world's most varied and exciting architectural ensemble.
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Old November 14th, 2011, 04:32 PM   #830
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Rotterdam isn't that bad, this time last year I was living about 20km/13 miles away from there in the Hague, so visited a fair few times. They've demolished a lot of the worst early post-war stuff it seems and some of the new high-rises are fine. That being said some parts of the centre still have the scars of the earliest plans and frankly look like parts of Coventry, but it's a small section. Much of the place seems like a giant construction site as well (the main station, the new market, constant towers going up, etc).

The real issue with the city IMO is it is too large for the number of people who live there and visit, so feels empty and sterile. Some streets are long, straight and wide and quite downtown American (more than anywhere else in Europe I've visited) but there is just a lack of faces, like a Sunday in mid-size town after the shops have closed. It isn't dynamic in feeling at all.
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Old November 14th, 2011, 11:31 PM   #831
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Paris is not a museum, its a grand, handsome city punctuated with exciting contemporary designs built on a scale of 19th century buildings...all of this creates an attractive environment, which is admired all around the World. I also happen to like the 19th century European urbanism (consistent, dense and high). Consistency and uniformity is a good thing. Indeed Id rather have the Victorian grandeur in The City + a few icons than the current ugly mess! Thats what free-for-all does. I thought you were against DarJoLes "lets-rip-it-all-up" philosophy?

Berlin also is a home to exciting architecture - the new embassies and Jewish Museum are just a few such examples. Munich too is a great city with a cool mix of old and new - Jewish Centre, Herz Jesu Church, BMW Welt, Allianz Arena etc. None of them are museums, dumps or shitholes and the lack of free-for-all dont make them any less interesting or worse either. Theres nothing wrong with preserving the old (has DarJoLe hacked your account?), old is beautiful, so why not keep as much as possible of it? The trick is striking the right balance between new and old ; Munich, Barcelona and Paris are perhaps the three European cities that got this spot on - they preserved much of their pre-War architecture but also added great new designs.

Rotterdam is a completely different beast alltogether ; its a testing ground for new ideas and it has been such for a long time. The overall result may not be an attractive city, but it certainly does not lack good designs (Shipping and Transport College, Maashaven, Kunsthal and so on), much of its pre-war residential districts remain also. While its resi-towers are no worse than the ones springing up all over London.

Rome and many Italian cities are indeed stuck in the past (I havent seen a single crane in Rome during my stay there), but then Italy has more heritage than anyone else and as such you have to make sacrifices. Although the situation is a bit different in the north of the country.
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Old November 15th, 2011, 04:04 PM   #832
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Paris may be a bit boring, but Berlin?? Berlin is possibly the only city in Europe that makes London look like a museum.
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Old November 15th, 2011, 04:34 PM   #833
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Paris may be a bit boring, but Berlin?? Berlin is possibly the only city in Europe that makes London look like a museum.
Certainly Berlin has been keen on keeping a traditional layout and restricitng highrises but it is not a museum, it has very little old architecture left.

It may be conservative in some ways, but I think it is good that cities should try and maintain some identity.

The city needs to find a new source of wealth, even though it will crush the cities alternative scene under the weight of higher property prices.
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Old November 16th, 2011, 12:55 AM   #834
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Paris may be a bit boring, but Berlin?? Berlin is possibly the only city in Europe that makes London look like a museum.
I disagree. Where's Berlin's Shard, 122 Leadenhall, Gherkin, Pinnacle, London Eye, 02 Dome, Tate Modern, Wembley Stadium, Heathrow T5, Heathrow East, London Gateway port, Crossrail, Thameslink, 2 x Westfields, 2012 Olympics, etc? And those are just big projects, that are merely one aspect of London's dynamism.

Ultimately Berlin doesn't have the economy. All of the other large German cities are wealthier and have real industries (finance = Frankfurt, car manufacturing = Munich, media = Hamburg, etc). Berlin has government subsidy, and a big alternative scene (though "alternative" often means little more than counter-culture orthodoxy). However it doesn't have the across-the-board strength, variety and excitiment of London, and that's why the world is flocking to London and not Berlin.

As far as I can see, London has become Europe's leading city in almost every way. It's the biggest and best for finance, business, education, media, culture, arts, sports, etc. Every other European city feels small, slow, and provincial by comparison.
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Old November 16th, 2011, 01:09 AM   #835
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Paris is not a museum, its a grand, handsome city punctuated with exciting contemporary designs built on a scale of 19th century buildings...all of this creates an attractive environment, which is admired all around the World. I also happen to like the 19th century European urbanism (consistent, dense and high). Consistency and uniformity is a good thing. Indeed Id rather have the Victorian grandeur in The City + a few icons than the current ugly mess! Thats what free-for-all does. I thought you were against DarJoLes "lets-rip-it-all-up" philosophy?

Berlin also is a home to exciting architecture - the new embassies and Jewish Museum are just a few such examples. Munich too is a great city with a cool mix of old and new - Jewish Centre, Herz Jesu Church, BMW Welt, Allianz Arena etc. None of them are museums, dumps or shitholes and the lack of free-for-all dont make them any less interesting or worse either. Theres nothing wrong with preserving the old (has DarJoLe hacked your account?), old is beautiful, so why not keep as much as possible of it? The trick is striking the right balance between new and old ; Munich, Barcelona and Paris are perhaps the three European cities that got this spot on - they preserved much of their pre-War architecture but also added great new designs.

Rotterdam is a completely different beast alltogether ; its a testing ground for new ideas and it has been such for a long time. The overall result may not be an attractive city, but it certainly does not lack good designs (Shipping and Transport College, Maashaven, Kunsthal and so on), much of its pre-war residential districts remain also. While its resi-towers are no worse than the ones springing up all over London.

Rome and many Italian cities are indeed stuck in the past (I havent seen a single crane in Rome during my stay there), but then Italy has more heritage than anyone else and as such you have to make sacrifices. Although the situation is a bit different in the north of the country.
I agree about some Italian cities having too much heritage to mess with. I don't want beautiful Rome to be ruined by construction. However it means it's not an exciting place to live because nothing's happening there. It can look forward to a C21st of just being suffocated by ever more tourists.

Frankly I think central Paris is in the same boat. I know Paris is building some really cool stuff on the outskirts, but its the city centre that's the shared space for the whole metropolis. It's the centre that defines a city in the eyes of visitors too, and Paris's centre is a museum, and the odd glass pyramid at the Louvre or revamped Les Halles are not enough to make it exciting against global competition from the likes of London, New York, or Shanghai.

I don't rate Berlin's Jewish Museum, and the new embassies are mostly pretty awful (including the British embassy). I think Berlin missed the opportunity to do something more exciting and ambitious. It's ended up with less heritage than London or Paris (not the fault of today's planners: blame Hitler and WWII), and also less exciting modern stuff. The latter was Berlin's opportunity to make something of itself. Now the city's bankrupt, and the big government-funded projects have all been built. Imo they've got relatively little of value to show for all that public money.

I disagree about Rotterdam too. The landmark projects you mention are all horrid, and their residential high-rises are not as nice as Pan Peninsula, Strata, Vauxhall Tower, etc (let alone the Shard, which is partly residential). Rotterdam just hasn't got it.

And no DarJoLe hasn't invaded my account lol. I think he's a total philistine. If I had my way, I wouldn't "rip-it-all-up". In fact I'd make it tougher to destroy beautiful old buildings, not easier. However most of London's new developments replace concrete rubbish, and there's plenty more where that came from in and around central London. Central London can continue its dynamic and ambitious evolution for decades to come.
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Old November 16th, 2011, 10:53 AM   #836
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In effect London will basically end up with either old buildings and contemporary buildings. At the moment we're deleting a whole generation's worth of architecture and personally that burden should be spread across all building stock if London wants to continue to renew itself.

As I've said before, in the far, far future if London continues as it is today eventually you'll have a city of two parts - buildings up to the 20th century, and buildings from the last twenty years of that timeframe. It will be a very odd experience - surely it is better to have a handful of buildings from every era than two extremes as described. And then of course, eventually (although by then London will probably won't be London) it will get to the point where every building is from a different era if we are to keep and grade list the best of them.

Eventually there will be a time when even the Palace of Westminster will need to be compromised to ensure it survives the far future. And don't get me started on why Buckingham Palace hasn't been given anything of this architectural age just like it has for previous- maybe William might have the right idea, but I doubt it.

Removing the concrete 'rubbish' will only take a few decades, and then we'll crack on with the demolition of the Moorhouses, the Walbrooks, the Williss and whatever doesn't get listed from our generation of buildings. And then the cycle will continue for centuries until every building is listed. And then is London finally 'finished'? Or do we go back and say what is simply unrepairable, and say its time for those to be replaced?

But I agree with you that London is Europe's most dynamic city. But the danger is that it realises that, and rests on its laurels without continuing to advance at super speed which it should. We're already seeing it stagnate socially in the last couple of years, and I fear its current leaders are not taking seriously the urban challenges that the 21st century will pose - but the one strength which I think the majority of people like, or at least take for granted, is that London is a place that never sits still for whatever reason. Accept that and London will be successful whatever is thrown at it.

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Old November 16th, 2011, 11:48 AM   #837
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In effect London will basically end up with either old buildings and contemporary buildings. At the moment we're deleting a whole generation's worth of architecture and personally that burden should be spread across all building stock if London wants to continue to renew itself.
But it's based on quality. The Victorian Buildings are high quality in terms of design and materials. They're well-loved and can be converted to modern uses. The 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s buildings are almost all rubbish. That wasn't the case everywhere in the world. Chicago built wonderful buildings during that period, but with very few exceptions, almost everything in London from those decades is awful.
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As I've said before, in the far, far future if London continues as it is today eventually you'll have a city of two parts - buildings up to the 20th century, and buildings from the last twenty years of that timeframe. It will be a very odd experience - surely it is better to have a handful of buildings from every era than two extremes as described. And then of course, eventually (although by then London will probably won't be London) it will get to the point where every building is from a different era if we are to keep and grade list the best of them.

Eventually there will be a time when even the Palace of Westminster will need to be compromised to ensure it survives the far future. And don't get me started on why Buckingham Palace hasn't been given anything of this architectural age just like it has for previous- maybe William might have the right idea, but I doubt it.

Removing the concrete 'rubbish' will only take a few decades, and then we'll crack on with the demolition of the Moorhouses, the Walbrooks, the Williss and whatever doesn't get listed from our generation of buildings. And then the cycle will continue for centuries until every building is listed. And then is London finally 'finished'? Or do we go back and say what is simply unrepairable, and say its time for those to be replaced?

But I agree with you that London is Europe's most dynamic city. But the danger is that it realises that, and rests on its laurels without continuing to advance at super speed which it should. We're already seeing it stagnate socially in the last couple of years, and I fear its current leaders are not taking seriously the urban challenges that the 21st century will pose - but the one strength which I think the majority of people like, or at least take for granted, is that London is a place that never sits still for whatever reason. Accept that and London will be successful whatever is thrown at it.
I don't think we need to compromise the Houses of Parliament. It's managed to perform well for 150 years, and new technologies are less intrusive than old ones. For instance, as data is increasingly tranferred over air, there won't be the need for the spacious underfloor cabling provision in modern office developments.

I have no problem with getting rid of buildings like Willis, Nido, Broadgate Tower or 20 Fenchurch Street 20-30 years hence. They're ugly and have no architectural value. I'm also not worried about London becoming "full". Most of zone 1 south of the river can be redeveloped with little to no architectural loss. Much of what we'll build will be poor or indifferent, and so replacable itself when the time comes. Central London will also expand over time, so I don't think we'll run of space.

Meanwhile Georgian and Victorian London aren't being built any more. The value of that architecture only increases with time. There are some shitty buildings from those periods that we can demolish without loss (eg that ugly brick hut by King's Cross that El Greco loves). However there's no way I'm ever going to support putting a wrecking ball through good handsome Georgian and Victorian buildings only for them to be replaced by ugly inferior ones. I love this city, and those are the buildings that make it lovely.
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Old November 16th, 2011, 01:50 PM   #838
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However there's no way I'm ever going to support putting a wrecking ball through good handsome Georgian and Victorian buildings only for them to be replaced by ugly inferior ones.
But who is to say their replacement is ugly and inferior? If the Shard meant the demolition of a row of Georgian and Victorian buildings would you not support it? At what point does heritage give way to contemporary, and what makes all Georgian and Victorian so special over other architectural styles that it needs to be saved?

Yes, there is plenty of stuff in London that can be demolished and not missed so new buildings can be built. But developers don't work like that - there isn't a list of viable buildings that developers can pick and choose to demolish- it's about plots of land, location to transport hubs, location to other businesses that decide where they propose new buildings. In a few years (20 I reckon) the central 'hub' of the City will either contain listed buildings, conservation areas or newly built contemporary buildings. So does the City give up? At what point in the future do we accept that we need to demolish an older building to continue London being a place for contemporary office space, or is it that we simply replace the newly built structures? In effect we'll loose a whole chunk of architectural era unless the burden is spread equally.

Last edited by DarJoLe; November 16th, 2011 at 02:04 PM.
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Old November 16th, 2011, 02:31 PM   #839
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Rome is exciting, not as exciting as Naples of course, but its great ; for starters you can drink the nights away in Trastevere, or enjoy its festivals. The tourists only seem to ever use certain streets and hang out in the big places - Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps, everything in between them is full of Romans.

That building in Kings Cross is not an ugly hut, but pretty cool Victorian warehouse, which, together with the area, is being brought into the 21st century. Indeed Kings Cross Lands redevelopment is my favourite project in London.

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and what makes all Georgian and Victorian so special over other architectural styles that it needs to be saved?
Spoken like a true philistine! Aesthetics for starters, aesthetics is what most modern buildings just do not have, for the most part they are charactless, dull boxes.
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Last edited by El_Greco; November 16th, 2011 at 02:40 PM.
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Old November 16th, 2011, 03:36 PM   #840
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aesthetics is what most modern buildings just do not have, for the most part they are charactless, dull boxes.
So then demand that their replacements are modern buildings with aesthetics!
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