From London to Paris; Connected Through Architecture
“The City is a world within itself. Centred in the heart of the metropolis, with its innumerable capacities for commercial pursuits, it presents at first sight, to a stranger, a most mysterious and unfathomable labyrinth of lanes and alleys, streets and courts, of lanes thronged with bustling multitude whose various occupations, though uniting in one grand whole, seem to have no direct association with each other.”
– D. Morrier Evans, The City, 1852
I absolutely adore the financial district of London. It makes me think of blue suits and briefcases and business meetings and the rush of making money. However, as I walked through London’s financial district of a still and beautiful Saturday morning, when most of the shops were closed and the skyscrapers held no one but security guards I happened across the Lloyd’s building, and my idea of London’s financial district was immediately altered.
The Lloyd’s building is smack dab in the middle of the financial district. It sits at 1 Lime Street and it is unlike any modern business building I have ever seen. When I first saw the exterior comprised of the building’s water pipes, electrical power conduits, and other various things usually found on the interior of a building, I leaned over to my friend Karelia and said “wow, it’s a lot like the Centre Pompidou” which is the modern art museum in Paris. So I looked the Lloyd’s building up and low and behold the architect Richard Rogers is the same man who designed the Pompidou. They both have their interior functions on the exterior, creating a more open inside. The Lloyd’s building has glass elevators allowing you to see the city of London as you ride up, and the Pompidou has clear plastic tubes encircling the escalators to allow for the same view of Paris. The Lloyd’s building is more industrial looking with is metallic exterior and the Pompidou is not nearly as tall. But, these building so similar and yet they stand in completely different cultures.
These buildings that are so similar and yet so unique in many ways made me think about the buildings that I’ve seen all over the world recently. Buildings from the gothic era and the Georgian era and the Victorian era and from the Ancient Greeks and Romans. No matter what country I’m in, everywhere has had their own version of the same types of architecture. The whole of western Europe was influenced by many of the same people and by one another and this resulted in similar styles of architecture throughout the world. Just like the Lloyd’s building here in London, various countries throughout the world are so inspired by one another. There’s a sense of connectedness that can be found in each nation I’ve visited where the architecture is unique and yet so alike. The buildings of Madrid are build similar to those in Paris, and Notre Dame is similar to the gothic cathedrals in England and the Roman columns in Italy can be found in The United States. Seeing the beautiful and unique Lloyd’s building reminded me that we are all connected under the ideas of the world, and I left the Lloyd’s building with a sense of familiarity and respect for the connected cultures of Western Europe.