Thursday, 28 October 2010
One New Change
To EC4 to witness the grand opening of Jean Nouvel's One New Change - the City's brand new monument to retail. It was mobbed with City workers taking an early lunch - there was even the obligatory street performer on stilts, just like architects always draw. He had a French accent ('no phurtos, s'il vous plait'), so perhaps it was Nouvel, who is not tall and might have been worried about being lost in the crowd on his big day.
The eye-catching 'stealth bomber' architecture has been criticised as 'likely to become dated' by some of the design chatterati - a line of attack which always needs to be challenged. St Paul's cathedral on the other side of the road can be dated by a historian, but does it look 'dated'? The mania for 'barcode' elevations and the like has been subject to the same criticism, but Eric Parry's building in Finsbury Square, an excellent example of the style and shortlisted for the Stirling Prize, seems likely to stand the test of time simply because it is a good piece of architecture. It will be possible to date it in a hundred years, just as we can now date an Edwardian civic building to within ten years or so without looking it up. Perhaps 'temporal distinctiveness' should be added to 'local distinctiveness' on the planners' checklists.