Above: View looking east from Newgate Street, in the City of London
If you have ever wondered what ‘large as life and twice as ugly’ really means then have a look at the image above. In the mist of an October morning (2 October 2014) there is the pleasant vista of the western end of Cheapside with the spire of St Vedast towards the left and further down Cheapside (on the right) the even larger Wren spire of St Mary le Bow.
Until two years ago, most of the top of this view would have contained sky. Now most of it is obscured by a building which is so huge that it blocks almost all the sky. In case you are thinking it must be an office block standing in Cheapside, it may be worth pointing out that the top-heavy building stands in Fenchurch Street which is some distance away. It is only because of its imense size that it appears to be closer than it is.
The building is still being completed because, due to its curved shape, the glass windows on the right-hand side (as viewed from this point) magnified the sun’s rays in July and caused part of a motor car to melt due to the intense heat. A remedy had to be found and the architect needed another six months to fix the problem.
Which would you prefer, Christopher Wren’s church spires or the new office block ?