Interesting to see the public protest against mega property developer Barratt's plan to build a 27-storey block of flats in Blackfriar's Road, close to St George's Circus, as reported on the London SE1 blog.
One of the main points made by opponents to the scheme is that the tower will dwarf the obelisk in centre of the square. This used to help people work out where they were in this incredibly confusing area of radial trunk roads.
I love obelisks and wish this one were ten times as tall. Unfortunately, this nice but diminutive obelisk is already pretty heavily obscured by nondescript office buildings of the past four decades.
As one who would almost on principle oppose any scheme put forward by this firm - the company responsible for so many blots on the English landscape, those estates of houses where you're worried if you take a dump after 9pm cos the kids are sleeping the other side of that bit of plasterboard?
But how much space does an average human need to take a dump in? OK halve it and build five thousand units…
Yeah, that lot, or was it Wimpey?
It's quite boring, really, but see how often critics now attack Britain's dreadful record on building mass housing, how the profession seems to have turned its back on the ideals it used to have in the day of Goldfinger et al - homes not for heroes but for homes for people who were more than 5ft tall and liked to play music loud occasionally, to hang out the window, make a fire, brew some beer, hold a party, dance or just build shelves.
So I am no fan of Barratt or any of their ilk - and when I turn to their website I see that they have already - in oh such a responsible, community-supportive way, agreed to lop 3 whole storeys off the planned tower, and have completely scrapped plans for a second tower.
Here's where I get egged. I'd rather they built a 60 or 80 or 120 storey tower here. Get all those rich bastards into as few of these silly buildings as you can. Provide big sewer pipes to take their copious shit as far away as possible.
The last thing London needs is any more half-cocked compromise non-skyscraping mediocrities. Ugly stumps. Surely the Shard has already cracked that old chestnut - once you get over the prevailing 8-12 storey norm, it doesn't matter. You've already fucked everyone else's view at 14 storeys (see Nine Elms Disease, passim). And, as the stupid Wlkie-Talkie has already demonstrated , width - thickness - is as big a factor as height, especially when you swell out to some sort of moronic brow.
But then they say, well, one day you'll love the Walkie-Talkie, and die to defend it. Oh really? Well, perhaps. It is ugly enough, it gets noticed.
So, do something people will really hate - and maybe come to love. You have to go really high to impress these days. Erect, impress! Get a decent SE1 cluster going that will shame the Shard and make the City look like legoland. Well, it already does, a bit, doesn't it?