Postcards from Southwark

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 08.51.34On one of his London perambulations close to the river, Dalrymple wanders near Blackfriars Bridge (not too far from the site of the Globe Theatre), finding himself in Hopton Street. Here he happens upon

a little building [67 Hopton Street] of the first half of the 18th century, not an architectural masterpiece by any means (as it was never meant to be), but charming and graceful, of human scale but not entirely without grandeur, well-mannered.

Immediately behind it has been built

a modern office block [71 Hopton Street] obviously inspired in style by the Centre Pompidou in Paris, though with bright yellow rather than red as the deliberately garish color.

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 09.01.51It overwhelms its neighbour,

as if setting out deliberately to humiliate it, to demonstrate to every passerby how much progress we have made in our power and structural engineering—to demonstrate that builders in the 18th century lived in the architectural equivalent of jahiliyya.

Thought has been given

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 08.55.03to the question of compatibility of the two buildings, and the decision taken to make the new building as incompatible as possible, to make a virtue of such incompatibility.

The constructive urge, says Dalrymple, reversing Bakunin’s dictum,

is also a destructive one.

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 09.08.14Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 09.06.45Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 09.23.01

Hopton Street, S.E.

Another view of Hopton Street

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