Tuesday 4 March 2014

The Brits who Built the Modern World

My Sunday morning viewing has been catching up on the splendid BBC Four show "The Brits who Built the Modern World".

Famous to everybody Richard Rogers and Norman Foster, famous to the better informed and those in construction; Nicholas Grimshaw, Terry Farrell and Michael Hopkins.

You'd be surprised how many of their buildings you've met... famous and less famous. I've picked a few in London; but there are many, many more across the UK and the world.

Norman Foster - amongst others the famous Gherkin (30 St Mary Axe, headquarters of Swiss Re) and  London's shell-like City Hall.

Richard Rogers - amongst others, The O2 Arena (formerly known as the Millennium Dome). Not just a huge space for exhibition and events, but also symbolic. The diameter is 360 degrees (for almost the days in the year); there are 12 uprights (one for each month) - and the yellow pylons reach skywards in celebration. 

The big hole in the Dome is for the only structure (apart from the gasometer) which was on the derelict peninsula.

Terry Farrell - in connection with the above the now listed ventilation shafts from the Blackwall Tunnel making the distinctive hole in the Dome. Perhaps more famously the MI6 building on the north bank of the Thames out towards Vauxhall (sorry, no photo).

Nicholas Grimshaw - in London the now defunct Eurostar terminal at Waterloo Station; built with an amazing glass system to meet the shape and design needs.

Michael Hopkins - most controversially Portcullis House. Providing administrative space for the Houses of Parliament (hence the portcullis the symbol used by Parliament). Controversial as a modern building sandwiched amongst historic buildings. More impressive is the fact that it is built of the extended Westminster underground station, serving the Jubilee Line (one of the deeper lines in the centre of town); the amazing columns and architecture of the extended station are supporting Portcullis House above.

Do visit the BBC link to find out more if you are interested or visit the exhibition currently running at the RIBA in Portland Place (nearest tubes Great Portland Street or Regent's Park).