Thursday, 14 June 2012

One New Change, EC4

One New Change is a classic example of City greed, a monster block right next to St Paul's. The trendy, look-at-me design by Jean Nouvel (based on an Airfix model of a stealth bomber) fails to conceal that fact that the main design objective is to cram as much lettable space as possible onto the site.
Not that the previous building was anything to write home about - a bland neo-Georgian block that was home to the Bank of England's accounts department. It was, however, decorated with a sprinkling of sculptures by some of Britain's most eminent artists including Sir Charles Wheeler, Donald Gilbert, David Evans and Ernest Gillick.
Most of the art was packed up and sold (though some is still available). But you can still see some of Wheeler's work on the roof terrace at One New Change.
And that was something of a revelation. You get to it by boarding a glass lift buried down a canyon through the building, with a stunning view of St Pauls at the end. When you get to the top, this is what you see:

Most people stay in the rather good tapas bar, but tucked around the corner is a 'vitrine' or glass case containing three of Wheeler's figures, St George Combatant, St George Triumphant and a Lion keystone. Not his best work, but infinitely better than Gavin Turk's new Nail, which is a big nail (duh!) sticking out of the pavement at the entrance.

Unfortunately, the glass is dotted to reduce heat transfer which makes the sculpture difficult to see properly, let alone photograph. My photo software also brings out the reflected blue of the sky much more strongly than it appears to the eye, but I rather like the effect.
Laid out on the compulsory sedum roof (oh so green) is one of the rather attractive mosaics by Boris Anrep.


Austen Redman said...

I rather liked the previous building, the facade was better than most of the new buildings to go up in Paternoster Sq.

The Duke of Waltham said...

I certainly prefer it over its replacement—at least in terms of principle, and judging from photographs. There is some interesting information on the old One New Change here.

The Duke of Waltham said...

Addition: it seems the three sculptures were from the entrance opposite St Paul's.

Chris Partridge said...

Austen - almost anything is better than Paternoster Square.