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Say no to skyscrapers

I work close to Victoria Station in London. And it’s a total nightmare. It has been for a few years now and will be for several more because the whole place is a building site.

Going from A to B used to be a simple process involving pointing yourself in the direction you want to go and then putting one foot in front of the other repeatedly.

But now it involves going via C, D, E and occasional F while penned into a small rat route along with every other poor Victoria worker and a bucket load of tourists trying desperately to get to Buckingham Palace.

New buildings are erupting from the ground, old ones are disappearing and no doubt we’ll have some very shiny and very tall offices and shops and flats in 2020 when it’s all done. Along with a train station that is much cleverer than the last one.

But I felt a twinge of sadness as I sat on a bench and watched it all for a while. Victoria Station is a beautiful old building. I forget that fact for long periods, but am reminded in moments of calm or when I see holidaymakers taking photos of it.

There are a huge number of beautiful old buildings in London as you who have visited or live here will know. But we’re not going to get any more. The number we have is the maximum number there will ever be. The future is full of efficiently created steel and glass monsters. Maybe floating hover-buildings eventually. Who knows. And while I realise change and development are good things and important for infrastructure, jobs etc etc blah blah… I just think the old ones are much prettier.

And as time goes by we’ll have less of them while the new ones get bigger and cover more and more of the city.

Which is why I think I’ll always try to stay somewhere old while on a city break in future. I saw an article about flats in a new New York skyscraper going for tens of millions of pounds. But for some reason the photos left me feeling a bit flat and I really don’t want to stay in one of them. The views are nice and the furniture looks very snazzy but next time I cross the pond I want an old brownstone house and to revel in the historical beauty of one of my favourite towns.

The Inn at Irving Place

The Inn at Irving Place in New York, USA

So I did a little search and found The Inn at Irving Place. Two 1834 brownstone houses with grand staircases and rooms furnished with New York antiques. It even has a tea house. And fireplaces. And cherry wood floors. And most importantly of course no building works or remote control curtains.
Right. It’s 1130am now. I’d better set off in search of lunch because it’s going to take me a while to get there!

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. This is the reason why i always love to follow these blog. Posts in this blog are quite unique and with lot of information. Loved it.

    05/12/2014
  2. Sandra Klepsch #

    Hey Melissa,

    I’ve read your posts for a while and the one now about skyscrapers versus old buildings really hit a nerve.

    I’m an architect in Frankfurt and have been living in London for a while. Every time I look around, here or abroad, I see history disappear. Every time we cover a beautiful brick façade with insulation I fear for the history of architecture itself. I’m glad to see that other people also start to see, non-architects etc.

    Thanks for sending it out there, I hope it made some people reconsider.

    Keep posting!

    Sandra

    03/12/2014

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