Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Rendering the artist's impression obsolete

I came across this just now, in a BBC article dating from when the Gherkin was given planning permission. It looks a bit odd doesn't it - the black bits look like they've been coloured in hurriedly with permanent marker. It's the courtroom artist sketch of the skyscraper depictions world (I briefly thought then that there was a word for 'courtroom artist', but no - that's stenographer, the courtroom secretary.)

I can't say I've seen anything of quality as poor as this in relation to the new batch of skyscrapers. They possibly exist somewhere, just not in the public domain. It's all about 'renders' these days, such as that to the right, which also dates from the same time. Back in those pioneering days they were known more descriptively as 'virtual' images (the BBC's ' ', not mine). Lots of clouds in the image - you won't get that these days. I'm pretty confident of that statement and will now pick a random 5 current renders to see if my point is borne out.

See - completely random, and not a cloud in site.

Shard of GlassTurns out I was wrong, although Leadenhall Tower has chosen to have blue skies in all their renders, which I think is indicative (I love the rhythm of that word... particularly if you put on a South African accent) of a lack of confidence in the quality of the architecture. On the other hand, Peano (who I believe is responsible for the Shard of Glass) is so confident of his building's ability to carry itself that in the promotional picture it's shrouded in smog.

Back to the Gherkin for a moment, English Heritage were, as I mentioned earlier, opposed to its construction, somewhat undermining their moral authority when it comes to being the nation's guardian against eyesores. Turns out I was wrong about that too.

English Heritage's recommended that: "the old Baltic Exchange could not be properly preserved and that it could, in the unique circumstances of this case, be replaced by a new high quality building".
But there was a lot of controversy then too, as many thought that the historic Baltic Exchange Building, badly damaged by the 1992 IRA bomb, could be reconstructed fully, and shouldn't be flattened to make was for the Swiss Re Tower. (Talking of flattening, they've made Flatland: the Movie with Martin Sheen voicing Square (on the official website the menu items issue a satisfying ping as you hover over them)).

From wikipedia

English Heritage ... insisted that any redevelopment must restore the building's old facade onto St Mary Axe ... later discovered that the damage was far more severe than they had previously thought, so they stopped insisting on a full restoration — over the objections of the architectural conservationists who favoured reconstruction.

Anyway, here's this:
When it forced a public inquiry into the Heron Tower at Bishopsgate in 2002, its objections were effectively dismissed by the planning inspector who pointed out that, given its support for the Gherkin, opposition to Heron was "inconsistent". It then lost the inquiry over the "Shard of Glass" at London Bridge in late 2003, when the inspector cited the quality of the Renzo Piano design as the overriding consideration. As EH had used this very argument in support of its shameful decision to allowing the loss of the Baltic Exchange in favour of the Gherkin, it could not win.
... which is written by an Evening Standard journalist, so has no authority, but is a pretty good point.

I really hope people have bothered to read this far down as what follows is far and away the best twist in the tale.
The Baltic Exchange now sits in pieces in a great many wooden crates in a barn near Canterbury ... Perfect for phenomenally wealthy jigsaw enthusiasts

To arrange a viewing of the bits [Hahaha] please contact

Pavilions of Splendour
22 Mount View Road Winchester Hampshire
N4 4HX
020 8348 1234

No comments:

Related Articles by Labels

Widget by Hoctro