11 thoughts on “New vistas from the Eye

  1. Tom Turner

    Central London has a wonderful network of parks and greenspaces, which inspired Louis Napoleon to commission Haussmann, but even as a besotted London I have to admit that the panoramic views of London are not as good as the comparable views of Paris. My proposed solution to this ‘problem’ is that London should commission a roofscape contour plan. It could also be described as an urban morphology plan or as a skyline plan. We need an agreed term for this type of plan and we need civic authorities to commission them!

  2. Tom Turner

    Poppy, see the wiki account of green politics. Following this usage, I think of ‘green’ space as ‘space which is good from an environmental point of view’.
    I wonder if it is true about Paris having more trees than ‘any other capital city’. It may be, but it sounds like an urban myth to me.
    Planning and designing a city’s skyline sounds like an administratively, politically and physically impractical objective. But I still think it should be attempted! And the only real hope of success is to come up with such a good idea that future generations feel ‘bound’ to keep implementing the plan. This is what is happening with the 1944 Abercrombie open space plan for London. It was never adopted as an official plan – but everyone feels ‘bound’ to keep on implementing it.

  3. Christine

    The obvious question is whose counting trees? However it is a good place from which to get the conversation going & perhaps school children out doing tree counting surveys.

    Paris’ inner city skyline resulted from Hausmann setting a cornice height resulting in the now famous mansard roof.

    However this beautiful urban effect is threatened by the Old World love affair with New World towers:

    “Building height limits have changed little in Paris since Baron Haussmann redesigned the city during the mid-19th century, with caps now at 121 feet. Only a handful of exceptions have been made for high-rise projects in recent decades.

    Architect Michel Angevin said the height limit “has been a real constraint.”

    “This is just the beginning. Paris is going to change, and will look very different soon enough,” he added.”
    [ http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92337113 ]

    A similar constraints in 1916 aided the development of the famous New York skyline and has influenced skylines worldwide as well as postmodern architecture!

    Vive la difference. It would be great to see London setting skyline trends (a la the Gherkin) rather than following them.

  4. Tom Turner

    I predict that if Paris changes the height-limit they will regret it. The high buildings at La Defense are attractive as a contrast to the historic core of the city. Similarly, Beijing should have kept the old city, within the fortifications, and built a new city outside the walls. But I don’t know how far one can take this policy the City of London seems to have flourished through constant re-building so that it can always have the type of buildings which people want.

  5. Christine

    They say every cloud has a silver lining. Rebuilding London after the Blitz
    [ http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:London_Blitz_791940.jpg ] presented opportunities to reconsider how to build for the future in the centre of London.
    [ http://www.20thcenturylondon.org.uk/server.php?show=conInformationRecord.286 ]

    Because London is a city of many parts there are many opportunities to insert interesting buildings and create new urban spaces within the historic city fabric, creating an evolving skyline.

    Greenspace (in its many forms)and famous red street furniture and buses
    [ http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:London_Big_Ben_Phone_box.jpg ] can maintain a sense of unity so that the parts and the whole relate and a composite sense of the city character is built up.

  6. Tom Turner

    They also say that every silver lining has nasty cloud inside. I am showing my age, I know, but when I look at pre-1940 photographs of London it looks like a better place than the present London. It looks more civilized and better cared for and, please excuse the word, ‘respectable’. The 1980s attempt to rid the city of red busses and red telephone boxes are symptomatic of the bad attitudes to city management which have prevailed since 1940. Judgement has often been lacking and the people’s views have not been sufficiently taken into account. ‘Wretched bureaucrats’ have too often thought that they know best. Please excuse the rant!

  7. Christine

    Yes. The silver lining in this instance did have a nasty cloud inside. The cloud came first.

    London in 1930 does seem to be more unified in form. [ http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:London_Thames_(1930).jpg ] and [ http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:London_Piccadilly_Circus_circa_1930.jpg ]

    Perhaps it was also more civilised and better cared for too.
    [ http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2306/2123723496_ccfc951e69.jpg ] and [ http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_38n7Zl1Rp9A/SqANrbnt1EI/AAAAAAAAAxA/_DeMACVZuLM/s1600-h/london50s.jpg ]

    I wonder if there is a way to re-find those qualities in the new millenium?


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