London’s City architecture: a triumph of vanity and capitalism

I went up to London on June 4th to photograph London’s City architecture. Two things of note about this. It was the morning after some terrorists drove a van at people on London bridge and then attacked them with knives. I went up with the Hampshire Social Snappers, a Meet Up Group.

We agreed to to meet at Monument Station and said we’d find each other because we we’d be the people with the cameras. Sadly the world’s press were there all filming down London Bridge but we eventually met up and fought our way through the associated bloggers, vloggers and mainstream press and started our walk using a map provided by the Corporation of London.

We walked across the City to iconic buildings like the Walkie-Talkie, the Gherkin and the Lloyds Building. We were lucky with the weather with blue skies and nice white clouds.

I last worked in the City nearly forty years ago and so expected the cityscape to have changed beyond recognition. And it has. It feels more like Manhattan than London but tucked between the glass and chrome of new London were the gorgeous Wren churches I remember from my time there. However the thing that struck me most was the sheer quality of the architecture.

I’ve always felt that good corporate architecture is a mix of sheer vanity and flamboyance. Most companies who build a mega-structure are basically waving their dangly bits in the face of their rivals and saying ‘mine is bigger than yours’ in a 60 story,thrusting,glass and steel sort of a way.

The architecture is also a triumph of capitalism. You cannot imagine a government funding the Gherkin or the Willis Building. It simply requires too much money and imagination and governments aren’t very good at that sort of thing.

So this was an exciting trip that started with the aftermath or terrorism, moved through world class architecture and ended with a tango demonstration in Spitalfields.

I decided to try and find unusual angles so I asked an Italian tourist if I could photograph her and her glasses with the Gherkin in the reflection.  She was a bit stunned initially but readily agreed.

Not the greatest shot but she was a good sport and I took a picture of her and her friend on their phone to say thank you.

A wonderful day out. Lunch at Wagawama and then the train home to the New Forest.




One thought on “London’s City architecture: a triumph of vanity and capitalism

  1. Mark: Nice interesting topic to read this morning over breakfast and avoiding the media overload on our hung parliament.

    I too was in the ‘smoke’ last week at the V&A museum.

    I was also looking at the London skyline and buildings from the train. I travelled in via Dorking from my sons abode which provided vistas not seen on my historic train comets from Ascot to Waterloo in the 1970 / 1980’s

    I first worked in the city in the last year of my apprenticeship (5 years in those days) and worked on many of the city’s large and unique buildings. E.g. Guys Hospital, Knightsbridge Barracks, Large Banks etc.

    I didn’t return to the city until the mid 90’s whilst working for the MoD and like you I didn’t recognise many of the landmark buildings that now dominate the skyline. You mentioned the funding of these buildings. I think that most are Chinese fund and/or owned.

    However, with my camera eye scanning the the buildings and skyline I was more than awe struck by the sight of the Battersea Power Station construction site. Awesome and a must see photographic gem especially with the 20+ tower cranes dominating the site.

    Strongly advise a visit to both BPS and the V&A Pink Floyd Exhibition. From a not to be missed photographic opportunity. perspective.

    Take care. Keep up the good work.

    Peter >

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