I’ve just got back from a short trip away to London, and whilst I’ve been working on a couple of posts to put up on here, today’s offering is a little wander down a path that is rather close to my heart; that of architecture.
Many buildings erected today are not built to last, it seems, and are constructed with little regard to grace. The steel and glass edifices that dot the landscapes of major cities certainly can catch the eye, but one can hardly expect them to stand as a testament to the creativity of our species.
When one contrasts the buildings of today to those of the past, the contrast is striking – the view from the old naval college at Greenwich is a perfect example of this.
I know I cannot really expect to stand, Canute-like, in the face of a tide of technical progress and scream of the unparalleled virtues of the architectural grandiosity of the past but I would hope that in certain circles a glimmer of the aesthetic respect that one can see in more classical buildings could be retained.
When new buildings are commissioned by the Government, for example, I believe they should be constructed with an eye to the future, but an appreciation of the past upon which they are built. It is the duty of government to build for the future, not just the present, and architecture should reflect this. Classical buildings give a sense of permanence which simply does not appear in steel and glass.
Whilst there is a general will amongst modern governmental projects to present an appearance of looking to the future, their choices of buildings (Ipswich or Stafford Borough Council offices being a couple of examples that spring to mind) instead do more to reflect architectural trends and restraints of their moment of conception.
Of course local governments and that of the nation face budgetary constraints, and it would cost more to build more aesthetic structures, but such constructions would be an investment. The brutalist structures of the 60s have already run their life and face demolition, and the lifespan of even modern constructions cannot be measured in centuries.
Classical government buildings, such as the neoclassical offices of Whitehall and the central office of Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, look as beautiful today as when they were first constructed and I am of the opinion that the commissioning of new buildings should have as strong an eye to posterity as appears to have been demonstrated when these were first constructed.
When creating something; one should have an eye not only to the present but to the future, and this should ring particularly true for those in government. By creating structures that retain a beauty beyond their immediate purpose there is a real investment in the nation’s future, whilst also demonstrating an intention that the creation itself is worthy of enduring, as well as the transitory forces that move through it.
An in-depth analysis of one victim of architectural faddism: http://manchesterhistory.net/manchester/gone/crescents.html