The Creeping Plague Of Ghastly Facadism

by the gentle author

As if I were being poked repeatedly in the eye with a blunt stick, I cannot avoid becoming increasingly aware of a painfully cynical trend in London architecture which threatens to turn the city into the backlot of an abandoned movie studio. If walls could speak, these would tell tales of bad compromises and angry developers who, dissatisfied with the meagre notion of repair and reuse, are driven solely by remorseless greed.

Meanwhile, bullied into sacrificing  of merit, cowed planning authorities take consolation in the small mercy of retaining a facade. The result is that architects are humiliated into creating passive-aggressive structures, like the examples you see below – gross hybrids of conflicted intentions that scream ‘Look what you made me do!’ in bitter petulant resentment.

A kind of authenticity’ is British Land’s oxymoronical attempt to sell this approach in their Norton Folgate publicity, as if there were fifty-seven varieties of authenticity, when ‘authentic’ is not a relative term – something is either authentic or it is phoney.

An affront in Spitalfields, London

An affront in Spitalfields, London

Shameless in Artillery Lane, London

Shameless in Artillery Lane

Not even pretending in Gun St, London either

Not even pretending in Gun St, either

A sham marriage in Chiswell St,

A sham marriage in Chiswell St

Lonely and full of dread in Smithfield

Lonely and full of dread in Smithfield

Can you spot the join in Fitzrovia?

Can you spot the join in Fitzrovia?

Looming intimations of ugliness in Oxford St

Looming intimations of ugliness in Oxford St

A fracture in Hanway St

A fracture in Hanway St

A hollow excuse in Central London

A hollow excuse in Central London

The veneer of luxury in the West End

The veneer of luxury in the West End

A prize-winning abomination on the Caledonian Rd

A prize-winning abomination on the Caledonian Rd

Barely keeping up appearances at UCL Student Housing

Barely keeping up appearances at UCL Student Housing

A facelift that went wrong in Goulston St

A facelift that went wrong in Goulston St

‘A kind of authenticity’ – the shape of things to come in Norton Folgate according to British Land

‘A kind of authenticity’ – the shape of things to come in Norton Folgate according to British Land

Images and words by the gentle author

Please suggest more examples so I may extend my galley of ghastly facadism


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