The importance of the Iconic

Swiss Re Building 30 St Mary Axe

Although the historic and modern medium density London is not visible from Bishops Square in this photograph, Foster thankfully has provided the city with a Landmark building which orientates us within a largely visually undifferentiated urban environment; and the green space and water garden provide the amenity so beloved of London’s inner city squares.

3 thoughts on “The importance of the Iconic

  1. stefan

    ..but just imagine how nice it would look covered with ivy, mmmm..

    seriously though, how many modern architects would allow their precious buildings to be obscured by plants? the problem for green spaces in our cities is that they are percieved as having no commercial value. in fact, at a time when we have an apparent housing crisis (and when isnt there one) land itself is sometimes seen as having a negative value. not my opinion of course, but your article on Barking Square shows very well how the values of architecture dominate the design of open space. but i’ve said it before – landscape is not architecture, it has different values and different needs. how much do you bet that Barking square was designed the way it is, just so attention isnt drawn from the buildings? who cares if it cant actually be used..

  2. Christine

    Yes. I noticed, no greenery at all. True – you wouldn’t grow ivy on the ‘Gerkin’; but if the historic buildings in the foreground were covered in ivy the whole would sit better as an urban composition!

    Architecture truly is challenging to design and to always site sympathetically (either in harmony or contrast etc)to it’s environment – natural or landscaped. The variety of angles from which the building can be viewed in a complex urban environment is astounding….(google image for a selection). So Foster gets my vote in this instance.

    I am not sure that land itself is strictly seen as having negative value in an economic sense (think Versailles or Hyde Park and the tourism industry). Whether land is viewed commercially…, do Zoos,Botantical Gardens,Game Parks and Lochs come under this category?

  3. stefan

    i think the gherkin is a remarkable building and would never cover it with ivy. hopefully, my tendency to be sarcastic doesnt get in the way of what i try to say in my posts!

    as to land having a negative value i was speaking from a modern perspective, and its interesting that the examples you mentioned are all well over a century old. even modern environmental schemes such as the Eden project are notable more for their buildings than landscape – quite an irony. it sometimes seems to me, that people now are expected not to know what to make of their surroundings unless they’ve been branded for them in some way.


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