Monday, March 10, 2008

Baker Street, London


There’s a whole world on the rooftops of London – roof gardens, modernist balconies with ship-like rails, groves of trees launching attacks on penthouse ceilings with their roots. Look up in London and you see visual treats like this 1930s “arch in the sky” atop the former Abbey National building in Baker Street. This building is the place that acted as the mailbox for all the correspondence people sent to the fictional address (221B Baker Street) of Conan Doyle’s character Sherlock Holmes. But I like it for its tower, which makes me smile whenever I pass by. Its stone shines in the sun, enlivening bright, cold winter days like the one on which I craned my neck to take this photograph. I don’t know much about it, but I think this piece of aerial triumphalism must have been designed by someone who’d spent a lot of time admiring the buildings of Edwin Lutyens. I seem to remember the building below was gutted and renovated in 2005, and the arch had to be held up with scaffolding. I think the effort was well worthwhile.

6 comments:

Peter Ashley said...

Cor, you're about Ned Lutyens. This is almost a dead ringer of his War Memorial in Victoria Park, Leicester. But with the vertical axis stretched upwards as befits the location.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Further delving reveals that the architect was J J Joass. His firm, Belcher and Joass, designed the monumental Whiteley's store in Queensway, West London, which was my local department store when I lived just off Notting Hill Gate, many years ago.

Diplomat said...

What I love here is the fact the Mr Joass saw fir to apply so much detail despite the fact that this structure was never going to be studied that closely. Lucky pigeons.

Diplomat said...

or fit - even

Philip Wilkinson said...

Diplomat - Yes, it's always rather satisfying when architects take the effort (and have the budget) to do this. I suppose the idea was that a gargantuan Abbey National flag would fly on top of the enormous flag pole. I wonder where the bloke who raised and lowered the flag was meant to stand, though.

Peter Ashley said...

Could it be that the flagpole is actually positioned in a recessed well, like a church tower. Then all would be comfort and security for the flag putter-up-and-downer.
What appears to be a flat roof is in fact a parapet?