Thursday, 25 October 2012

Flânerie in South Molton Street

For what is au courant in the world of architectural ideas, you can visit the degree and diploma shows, and for a view of what journalists find interesting, you can read the journals; but you can't beat a bit of lunchtime flânerie  for spotting trends in what is actually getting built.  The Gutter and the Stars pounds the pavements of London en route between meetings to bring you the latest that is emerging from the hoardings (and indeed the hoardings themselves).

I was a bit disappointed to see the Hog in the Pound pub at the top of South Molton Street demolished -  like the now vanished Swiss Centre, an interesting and rather characterful piece of 1960s architecture of the kind that Westminster City Council seem only too happy to see replaced.  But the new building by DSDHA is, I think, a worthy replacement, clad in luscious glazed terracotta and making the most of its quirky 'prow' site.

Apart from the increasingly fashionable (and entirely welcome) use of glazed terracotta - also seen in spades on Dixon Jones' Regent Palace Hotel project not far from here -  the other trend that DSDHA's building exemplifies is the grouping together of windows in two storey high vertical strips. I'm not sure where this motif came from, but it also features, within a few minutes walk of this one, on Squire and Partners recent building in Hanover Square, and also this rather odd new building in Margaret Street just off Cavendish Square.

For my money, while the device works well on DSDHA's elevations, because there is an implication of a kind of central piano nobile strip with smaller bands above and below, it is rather less successful when repeated vertically, as it is here.

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