The other building that made an impression on me during my recent trip to London was not a building per se but a structure, namely Blackfriars Bridge which is undergoing a somewhat remarkable transformation from that depicted in the oil painting by Andrew Kennedy above. The original bridge was central London’s third Thames crossing opened in 1769 and was then replaced by the existing structure above 1869. As I walked under the bridge on the South Bank and saw all the scaffolding up I at first thought it was simply the refurb of Blackfriars station with a new entrance onto the South Bank but I was drawn to the staggering amount of building work and wondered what was going on. Found out that the whole bridge is being turned into a massive solar electricity generator. Now I’ve no idea what the cost benefit analysis for this work is or how much electricity will be generated but it seems such a staggering simply idea I wonder why we are not doing more of this. At the moment I think there is only one other scheme of it’s kind in the world which is a footbridge in Australia.
The new structure might not be quite that of the Victorian bridge but times have changed and the smog and smoke are no longer part of the modern picture either which will be pretty impressive in it’s own right, when it’s completed later this year, I think.
I’m firmly with Oscar Wilde when it comes to London and I for one have never tired of it. I used to live there but now have a different relationship with the city as it’s one that I visit. I’ve not been down for a while but in my recent visit I was struck by how things change and move on. Cities are great places to watch evolve and I think you notice this more through visits as things that are different will leap out at you, whereas when you live there the slow process of change almost goes unnoticed.
I think London more that anywhere else I know has a constant feeling of change set against a backdrop of incredible history, as I wandered around (and London is a brilliant city for wandering) I noticed new structures and buildings popping up and filling gaps adapting to the way that we now live our lives.
The most striking new development was the Shard, towering to the heavens on the South Bank. I’d heard about the building and like others have seen lots of photos of it with people dangling at the top etc but seeing it in the flesh without having been aware of it’s inching development skywards was striking. It gives the South side of the river an interesting focal point that draws the eye away from it’s numerous tall cousins across the river. I’m sure that there are many cons to the building, ego’s behind it, funding for it etc etc and I have no idea what Londoners think of it but as a simple striking building I liked it a lot. I think that it is officially unveiled (it’ll be a big veil) this week when no doubt lazers and the like will bounce of it’s glass sides and razzamatazz will take over but I prefer this shot above that I took as it stands alone in the dusk.