World Architecture Day

Today (October 2nd) is World Architecture Day and the b1 Creative team are getting all sentimental sharing their personal favourite buildings and spaces in London. A city characterised by its dense amalgamation of architectural periods, styles, and purposes, London has it all. From Liberty London’s Tudor timbering, to the sky-high Shard, we are spoilt for choice! But here at b1, we have done some digging on our favourite buildings and spaces, and our choices reflect a small portion of the huge variety in architectural design London has to offer – and maybe our choices reflect something about the b1 team too!

Russ: Battersea Power Station

Russ is not the only one who loves the symmetry and sheer size of this impressive 1933 building, which has become an iconic London landmark with help from the Beatles, Hitchcock, and Pink Floyd who famously, for their Animals album cover, flew a 40-foot pig balloon over the building! Unfortunately, the balloon broke loose and flew over Heathrow, causing havoc for air-traffic control!

The power station, which was built amidst much outrage from Londoners (including King George V!), is now being revamped for an enormous £9billion![1] The Grade II listed building will house upmarket apartments, the London Apple headquarters, and more.

Interesting fact: In the Second World War, Battersea Power Station quite literally burned money! When the British Government believed that a German invasion was imminent, they took a huge number of excess banknotes from the Bank of England and burned them here, so the money would not be acquired by the enemies![2]

Russ: “I’ve attended a few ‘Freeze Festivals’ at Battersea in the past and was always really aware of the building itself. It has such an imposing presence.”

Emi: Gasholder Park, Kings Cross

Built in the 1850s, these giant iron structures dominated the London skyline and were considered a bit of an eyesore to a lot of London locals. After the millennium, gas holders across the UK began to get taken down, but four of these historical gems behind Kings Cross remained. In fact, they were dismantled, sent up to Yorkshire to be restored, and then returned home and rebuilt, piece-by-piece, on the north side of the canal.

The renovation of these imposing cast-iron gas holders retains the urban feel of Kings Cross’ industrial heritage yet manages to blend in with the areas’ modernisation. The largest gas holder has been transformed into a dramatic and innovative open grass space called Gasholder Park, which is such a lovely space to interact with or to sit in and watch the world go by. On ground-level, the cylinder is lined with a canopy of mirrors which reflect surrounding lights and the ominous structure.

Emi: “Living behind Kings Cross, it has been so exciting watching the area change and develop! The canal area is my favourite place to walk and relax in London, so discovering the quiet and hidden Gas Holder park has been amazing!

“It embodies what I love about London. Everyone had a folk tale about it, and a marmite attitude towards it!”

Sally: The BT Tower

This building has made it onto our list because of its bizarre history! Originally named the Post Office Tower, the BT Tower has got to be Britain’s worst kept secret. Despite it being 621 feet tall, the tower was apparently protected by the Official Secrets Act and, up until the 1980s, was used to transmit top-secret military data across the UK. This meant the building was left off Ordnance Survey maps, and people were forbidden to take photographs of it![3]

You might assume that the intention behind its circular design would have something to do with radio transmission but, supposedly, the designers noticed that the only buildings which remained standing after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombing were round. It might therefore withstand an atomic bomb! Despite this, in an episode of The Goodies, the tower is shown to be toppled by a giant kitten known as “Kitten Kong,” so it might not be that sturdy after all!

Sally: “I am not sure if the BT Tower is an architectural gem, but it embodies what I love about London. Everyone had a folk tale about it, and a marmite attitude towards it!

Emily: The Tate Modern

The Tate is a perfect example of an old building which has been sympathetically restored and put to good use for everyone to enjoy. Originally the Bankside Power Station, the building was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott who was also the architect behind Waterloo Bridge and Battersea Power Station. The Tate Modern began redevelopment in 1994, and was opened to the public in 2000.

Whilst the outside of the building is imposing and rather uninviting, it’s hard not to be engulfed by the vast Turbine Hall that has housed a number of really cool art installations. Emily’s favourite was Carsten Höller’s Isomeric Slide. This amazing installation is comprised of 5 enormous slides, which not only look spectacular from the outside, but which you can also interact with and slide down.

Emily: “We visited the Tate Modern for the first time 5 days after my daughter Lily was born in August 2000 and have enjoyed going back ever since.”

Alfie: Waterloo Bridge Underpass

Alfie the dog has a favourite spot under the Waterloo bridge on the Southbank. In this particular underpass, his bark echoes back at him loudly, and he makes his humans stand there for ages whilst he gets excited at all the barking!

Just like the original Tate Modern and Battersea Power Station buildings, Waterloo Bridge was designed by architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. It seems the b1 team have a shared debt to Sir Scott for his contributions to the London landscape. Since swotting up on the man behind three of our top picks, we discovered he also designed the infamous London telephone boxes. His design “K2” was the winning submission for a 1924 competition to replace the Post Office’s original phone kiosks. Although Scott had suggested a green/blue interior, these phone boxes are now recognisable world-wide for their striking red colour.

So today at b1, we are celebrating World Architecture Day by acknowledging the work of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. Without him, London would look very different – plus, we wouldn’t have our beloved local Kingston Tumbling Telephone Boxes!

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/may/13/inside-the-new-battersea-power-station

[2] https://www.timeout.com/london/blog/ten-things-you-didnt-know-about-battersea-power-station-042816

[3] http://www.cabbieblog.com/londons-top-secret-tower/