Split Pediment

The musings of a Brighton-based architecture dweeb and town planner in training.

Tag: Neo-Gothic

Know thy station; or, the various fates of three north London termini – part 2

Greetings one and both! I hope this finds you well. St Pancras was a Christian zealot, apparently decapitated at the behest of Diocletian in 303AD. He was fourteen years old. There are three¬†fine nineteenth century buildings that, directly or not, memorialise this headstrong lad. The station – of which more later; St Pancras new church (built, anachronistically, in the supposed Greek renaissance style, fashionable in the early 19th Century); and the old church (the fabric of which is mostly newer than the new church. Natch), in the churchyard of which stands Sir John Soane’s memorial to his wife and in which Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin plotted their elopement. And they say romance is dead. Or something.

Pancras means, literally, “the one that holds everything”, and the station that bears this martyr’s name tries to do precisely that. “fine” burgers, “natural” remedies, “authentic” fossil (apparently that’s a distinctive modern vintage global lifestyle company specialising in consumer fashion accessories). You can even go to somewhere that helps you to “transform daily routines into the special rituals they once were”; going to the toilet never sounded so appealing. You can see a giant statue of two people melodramatically kissing, a much smaller statue of that wonderful old curmudgeon Sir John Betjemen, and – presumably for the next year or so – some Olympic-sized rings. If you’re really unlucky you might get to hear someone as arse-crushingly anodyne as Ed Sheeran whipping a crowd of international commuters into a frenzy of bedraggled bemusement as part of the “station sessions” series of unfortunate concerts.

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So it’s been just simply forever and a little longer too

and for that I entirely apologise. Really both of you deserve much more from this astonishingly unproductive non-blogger. Especially now. As Sarah the Travelling Cukoo sharply spotted, this minor bog of ours now appears as the top result on a popular internet search engine. You know the one – provides censorship on behalf of human-rights-infringing regimes; infringes copyright; rhymes with “frugal” – that sort of thing.

So I’ve not been up to that much of late in architectural terms. I suppose I’m still mildly hungover from NYC, so here’s some leftover pics for a nostalgic tripette down memory lane.

The Woolworth building, another of those that once held the “tallest building in the world” title. It’s basically a big Gothic spire, almost Disneyesque in scale and form, set atop a bigger rectangular base. There’s an amazing picture on Wiki of the tower being built. It brazenly fronts onto City Hall (entirely dominating the area), giving a rather clear message of where the money really is.

Mmmm... capitalism

This is an astonishing building in the NoHo/East Village part of the world. It’s actually still being built, though it appears occupied at night. As you can sort of see from the picture, there aren’t many other buildings this tall in the nabe; there is some doubt and dislike locally, as there is to all tall buildings. Architecturally speaking though this building is incredible: the taughtness in the skin is both playfully thin – it seems to be stretched between the floors – but it doesn’t seem fragile, as it exposes the structure (the central and side pillars and the floors). And the shading in the glass and the panelling emphasises the smooth curve and the change in light in the window reflections. Anyway, enough twittering, here it is:

And now that I’ve whetted your proverbial, I’m off. Sorry ’bout that.