I wonder if I can call this a favorite; it's more a reality of the heterogeneous architecture of London since the restrictions on building heights originally imposed by the London Building Act of 1894 have been eased, especially since the 1980s and a marked run to tall buildings in the last ten years. Between my first visit in 1961 and now it seems to me that I'm on another architectural planet.
The contrasts are surprising, amusing, if not shocking. I just put here two photos made from the Tower of London towards the City.
The medieval tower or turrets from the London Tower, the "Ten Trinity Square" from 1922 topped by a series of sculptures and originally built for the Port of London Authority, the "Gherkin" (Swiss Re Building - 2003) which I call "le suppositoire" and further the Tower 42 (1980).
After that you will understand that I prefer the views on Rome or Paris aside from economic considerations.
Just read in the Telegraph of 24 Oct 2009.
"Ben Bradshaw, the Culture Secretary, has criticised the Prince of Wales for interfering with a high-profile housing development because he did not approve of its style of modern architecture."
I must say that, when looking at the architectural landscape of London and remembering how it looked half a century ago at the time of my first visits, I'm not really enthusiast about the evolution.
Maybe I like harmony and that's not what I find nowadays looking at London. There is big contrast - an architectural shock - between modern buildings and older ones crammed on each other.
Some modern architecture is interesting but the narrow streets, the absence of perspective make me understand the reluctance of Prince Charles.
All London is divided into 6 zones. Central London is in the 1st zone. I lived at the south-eastern part of London in the 3rd zone. The life is more calm here, not so noisy and surroundings are quite cozy.
If you have a chance and time discover more parts of London, not just a central one.
Looking back from the Tate Modern towards St Pauls, the Millenium Bridge was London's first new pedestrian Thames crossing in 100 years!! Designed by Norman Foster and sculptor Anthony Caro the bridge was opened on 10 June 2000. It developed an obvious wobble after some 10,000 visitors walked across on the first day of opening but it was soon corrected and is now perfectly safe!
Read more about the Wobbly Bridge at the BBC news website.
Fondest memory: Fondest memory? Too many to list! What do I miss most when I am away? The sublime .... and the ridiculous and the unexpected.
I love the way London constantly makes new from old... this former hospital for women and children in Waterloo (1905-1936) is now a university but the old facade hasn't changed.
Fondest memory: What do I miss most when I am away from London? The newness and the oldness :)
"Switched on London" is a new Lighting Festival which takes place for over a week at the beginning of February in the Pool of London.
For the first time it took place in 2007 and annual repetitions are planned. During the event various sights in the area are temporaily illuminated in artistic and exciting ways. Among other landmarks the Tower of London, HMS Belfast, London Bridge, City Hall and the Design Museum were involved in the event in 2007.
In both February 2007 and 2008 I visited some of the illuminations with a lovely bunch of VT members and we really enjoyed a walk along the banks of the river Thames in between Tower Bridge and London Bridge (Pool of London).
Please check the following website for more info about the event:
Walking around London looking at the great icons like the Tower of London & Tower Bridge, keep your eyes peeled for the unusual. In the picture you will see Cannon Street Station, a very ordinary place at it's street entrance, but stunning with its old Victorian Towers viewed from London Bridge.
Fondest memory: Strolling around less well known tourist routes, meandering along narrow streets spotting unfamiliar street signs with interesting names & being rewarded with interesting & historic things to see & do that are not particularly in the guide books. So best foot forward go explore you won't get lost but may find yourself lost in time.
Well, at least it is a different photo :-)
My dream house, in pink and green ( the colors of my favorite samba school in here, Mangueira ). It was love at first sight and sigh.
As I told before, I used to go back there and pass by just to look at it. And I was so curious about who actually lived in there. I almost wrote a story in my mind.
Next time I go there, I hope to being able to find it again.
Most cities reward the explorer. I would suspect none more so than London. Thus it was that I strolled down a street, Langham Place as it turned out, and was confronted by this amazing spire and church.
So affected was I that I failed to notice the BBC opposite yet this very building often doubles as a recording studio for the daily broadcast service.
It is John Nash designed, circa 1824, and its standout circular frontage resplendent with Ionic columns supports a spire that was initially ridiculed as too slender and flimsy. Needless to say, as it approaches its 200th birthday, while many other buildings are absent, the All Souls church survives.
The Grand entrance shows the Victory Arch. It is part of the office buildings and designed by J.R. Scott, chief assistant architect of the London South Western Railroad society. It is built with Portland Stone in Imperial Baroque Style. Its statues represent War and Peace, situated under a statue of Britannia. It commemorates the men of the railway of London; South Western and Southern Railway, who offered their lives during the First World War.
It was opened by Queen Mary in 1922
I read somewhere that at night its own searchlights light it. Maybe I should come back at night!
The design and construction of the bridges was quite a challenge. It necessary to keep the existing pedestrian crossing open until the first new bridge was complete. It was also necessary to co-ordinate closures of sections of the river, of the road and of both the over-ground and underground railways. London Underground became concerned that piling work in the river might set off a hitherto un-discovered world war bomb close to the tube tunnels, with potential disastrous results. This led to a redesign of the bridges to avoid foundations near the tube tunnels, and additionally the foundations nearest the tunnels were dug by hand in order to minimise any vibrations that might shake a bomb enough to start its timer.
Following the pedestrian-induced “wobble” at the Millennium Bridge, extensive testing was carried out to ensure the same problem would not arise.
Canary Wharf is the post-modern face of London, situated in Docklands. The fabulous history of the Docklands, from it's earliest beginnings in the 12th Century through it's hayday in the early 1960's and economic decline in the 1970's is told at the Canary Wharf History website in a time-line format.
Needless to say (from the photo) that the area has undergone MASSIVE rejuvenation over the last 20 years and is now an ultra-cool thriving business/residential/leisure area.
Fondest memory: London is ever changing and adapting. I love seeing new things evolving, and regenerating - London is exciting and unpredictable and thoroughly intoxicating. Every visit becomes a fondest memory!
(Previously known as the Hungerford Bridge).
There has been a footbridge across the Thames at this point since 1846, when Isambard Kingdom Brunel built a suspension bridge for pedestrians. This was replaced in 1863 by a railway bridge into the new Charing Cross Station, with a walkway on each side. However, one walkway was soon lost when the railway bridge was widened. The debate on how to improve the crossing has been going on for decades. The new footbridges were the result of an international design competition in August 1996 to design a new, improved pedestrian river crossing. The winning design comprises two footbridges on either side of the railway, supported from tall, tapering steel pylons leaning outwards from the railway bridge. The two bridges were completed in September 2002, and formally opened by Princess Alexandra in July 2003.
The bridges link the major rail and tube stations at Charing Cross, Embankment and Waterloo, and also the arts and entertainment centres of the South Bank and the West End.
Even though London has very nice old buildings and very modern buildings as well, I have never had the feeling that they don't fit together.
London's overall design is so well thought-out that the old and the new buildings form a perfect harmony everywhere in the city!
The Millennium Bridge is the first totally new pedestrian bridge to cross the Thames in over a century, since the opening of Tower Bridge in 1894. Other bridges have been rebuilt in this time, but the Millennium Bridge is the first new one. It links the City of London, near to St Paul’s Cathedral, with Bankside in Southwark.
Construction began in 1997, and the bridge was first opened on 10th June 2000, but was closed after three days (see next tip for details). After extensive modifications the bridge was re-opened on 22nd February 2002. The bridge measures 330 metres long and 4 metres wide. The average height above the river at high tide is nearly 11 metres, allowing river traffic to pass unimpeded. The original cost was an estimated £18 million, with modifications adding nearly another £5 million to the total cost of the project. The design was a collaboration between the architect Sir Norman Foster, the sculptor Sir Anthony Caro and the world renown structural engineers Arup.