The London Evening Standard‘s Rowan Moore takes a stab at figuring out what kind of London Mayor Boris Johnson envisions now that Lord Rogers has left the Mayor’s planning advisory commission and Nicholas Serota has replaced him. On the face of it, Moore surmises, Rogers’s departure suggests a turn toward stasis:
This would put him in the traditionalist camp of Prince Charles, except that he has also used his mayoral powers to support the modernist (and hideous) Columbus Tower near Canary Wharf, and thrown his weight behind the proposal for an “Olympic Landmark”. The Mayor has axed a plan to part-pedestrianise Parliament Square, while supporting the idea of improving London’s public spaces.
He says that he wants to see more drinking fountains, beautifully designed. It’s hard to see the guiding ideas in all this, except that the amusing, the daring, the quirky are the things that attract his attention. This magpie mind is, in fact, largely welcome, as the most blindingly obvious fact about London’s architecture is its diversity.
It is a city that can accommodate such lush fantasies as St Pancras station, the Hoover factory in Perivale and Rogers’s own stainless steel paean to plumbing, the Lloyd’s Building. It is a city with the neutral sobriety of Georgian terraces but also the mini-manor houses of suburbia. It is a city of brick, stone, timber, tile, faïence, steel, glass, concrete, plaster, copper, lead, iron, plastic, neon, terracotta, slate and, in one north London house, straw bales.
The thing most to be feared from the Mayor’s policy-makers is a pronouncement that all London architecture is made of solid masonry walls with rectangular windows cut in them. Or that all new developments should be arranged in traditional patterns such as streets, squares, mews and arcades.