Wednesday, 7 November 2012
Autumn in leafy Mayfair
This new building just off Curzon Street in Mayfair caught my eye...an elevation composed of brass leaves / tiles - a welcome upping of the game of decorative elevational treatments in recent buildings in Westminster that was discussed here. This is beautiful and subtle - a long way away from the world of 'Look at us we hired an Artist!'. Doubly pleasing to find out that this is the work of my own professional alma mater Squire and Partners, boldly going off-piste as they do occasionally.
Considering that Mayfair is such a posh area, it's surprising how dreary many of the buildings built there in the last hundred years or so are. Or perhaps not. Many recent buildings have espoused the anodyne, milk and water architecture that one can't help thinking is put forward by cautious developers and their architects who want to avoid upsetting planning officers or planning committee members, rather than representing anything that anyone actually wants.
Westminster City Council sponsored an exhibition at New London Architecture a few years ago, Contemporary Westminster, to show that they are not the fuddy-duddies you might have thought and that plenty of fine new buildings do in fact get built there - which is true. They need to keep it up though, because buildings as good as the one shown here are the exception rather than the rule - there are still some horrors, plenty of mediocrities, and a few that manage to be both mediocre and horrible.
An annual design award scheme could help raise the game. They can be problematic, though - some other boroughs that run them have found that prizes mostly go to schemes turned down by the council and given planning consent at appeal.