It’s the small things that count

Antonia Dixon

With an office based in the heart of Soho, it’s hard not to notice the continual development taking place around us. Occasionally we joke that we’ll soon be the last original building left standing! As London’s development continues to flourish, I find myself asking, what will be the ‘historic’ architecture for our next generation?

Big buildings have been showcased around the world as a symbol of power and wealth and it would be wrong of me to say that ‘supertall’ structures don’t exude a sense of empowerment and captivation. A clear memory of mine at 9 years old and 4ft tall, is standing at the base of a glass and concrete expanse attempting to comprehend its enormity as it soared skyward, further than I could see. Looking across at its twin, I was awed by the significance of their size in comparison to my own. The Manhattan Twin Towers, like many others, were iconic influences on global architecture, although none so tragic.

Despite their visual magnificence and their contribution to the development of architecture, it is a worry of many of my fellow Millennials that supertall skyscrapers and growing mass development has already begun to drown out the beauty of historic city architecture. Landmarks that were designed with exquisite detail, vibrant colour and took decades to complete, are no longer constructed in the same way.

Below are 3 international city landmarks with the qualities that I believe are less of a priority in contemporary development:

1) Duomo di Milano, Milan – Bishop Antonio da Saluzzo began the construction of the cathedral in 1386. I find it fascinating that over 78 architects worked on the project which took over 6 centuries to complete. A high quality Condoglian marble was used to intricately carve 3,400 statues, 135 gargoyles and 700 figures into the cathedral.

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Image courtesy of: Jiuguang Wang

2) St Basil’s, Moscow – Built between 1555 and 1561 under the instruction of Ivan the Terrible, the building is an appealing and dynamic piece of architecture due to its vibrant use of bold colours. It has become increasingly apparent that bright tones are not used in today’s construction. Instead, minimalist colour palettes and set materials are used for most contemporary developments.

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Image courtesy of verygreen

3) Old Bailey, London – This landmark is further proof that spectacular developments are not purely dictated by ‘how tall’. The Old Bailey, at just 67ft, was re-built a number of times between 1674 and 1913 and its final design was by E.W. Mountford. In contrast to today’s formulaic construction, I see value in the detailed carvings that are tailored to its unique identity. For instance, the bronze statue standing on the top of the dome signifies ‘Lady Justice’ which demonstrates blind justice, alluding to the Old Bailey’s role as a court room.

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Image courtesy of Amanda Slater

So from now on, as skyscrapers continue to etch that little bit closer to the edge of the earth’s atmosphere, the hope remains that our historic landmarks do not fade into the background as we move into a new generation…