A very posh development for very posh people

by robertmcnicol

I frequently visit London and mainly travel there by train, arriving at the great sheds of Victoria station and emerging – fresh and buoyed by my blessed Brighton – into the drizzle and hustle of London, its streets notsomuch paved with gold as sodden in silver lamplight and reflections of grey Portland stone – but no less marvellous for that.

On recent visits I’ve been monitoring the construction of an interesting building that appears just on the left after you cross the Thames (and just after one of the finest Mansard roofs in all London). From the rear the building looks like a big metal box, punctured with a few slittly vertical windows and decorated with an odd camouflage-like patterning etched into the facade; all thoroughly ordinary. However, from the front, the building is far more interesting and intricate, as you can see:

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Ooh! Isn’t it interesting! The maze-like frontage on the building is really very cleverly done; it successfully breaks up the boring box shape and gives the building some depth, aided by the way some of the openings aren’t closed off at the ends of the building. Why is depth important? Depth gives us a couple of things: it gives the building thickness, which implies prestige and quality (think of the bodywork on a Rolls – it always looks about three foot thick); and depth gives the building weight – the building looks heavier and more likely to stay standing.

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But of course all of that is subliminal; you aren’t consciously aware of the depth when you’re looking at the building. You’re checking out the playfulness of the openings in the upper storeys and the quality of the finish – all very good, and well done to the architects, MAKE.

But there’s that finish – the gunmetal grey and the dappled pattern etched into it, designed by Clare Woods. Unfortunately it looks like some shrink-wrap plastic has been half peeled off. Not best.

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And what really are those enormous shed-like openings on the ground floor about? The proportions are all wrong for the upper storeys – they should be much thinner and taller. Generally then, a good building but not a great one. The mega-rich of Chelsea can keep it.

Oh, and another thing. It’s called “Brahmah”. Crikes.

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