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"Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"

Friday, 8 November 2013

Does the Cheesegrater have mystical powers?

Late autumn sunshine creates an eerie effect on the sloping face of Richard Rogers' latest London landmark, the so-called Cheesegrater in Leadenhall Street
So much talk about London's new skyscrapers - for example, the vile Walkie-Talkie's propensity for frying people on the pavement when the September sun hits its concave face - but no-one else, so far as I can tell, has yet to comment on the strange optical effects of the even bigger new building on Leadenhall Street.

The merits and otherwise of Richard Roger's massive new tower (at 50 storeys, about 100m taller than its near neighbour, Rogers' widely-lauded Lloyd's building) have been widely discussed. There's a story, confirmed by Rogers himself, that its wedge shape was arrived at  entirely to save the view of St Pauls.

In doing this, he seems to have created a reflective effect that is, in its way, almost enough to produce a  religious experience, though whether this was intended I do not know.

One bright October morning, I looked out of the bathroom window, east across London, and saw this strange column of what seemed light swirling light rising above the Leadenhall building. The sun was bright, but in its autumnal mode, hit the wedge-shaped southern face of the skyscraper in such a way as to reflect almost vertically upwards, through layers of dispersion early morning mist.

The effect was series and spectacular - I tried to capture it, and the photo below does not really convey the full strangeness of this event. It was as though the building were acting as a sort of celestial prism, perhaps sucking the light and goodness out not eh City! What, is there some goodness to be found in that square mile? OK, No, clearly not the right interpretation. SO we are back to cheesgrater rather than soul-sucker.

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