The National Gallery needs to rethink its plans to enter | Rowan Mor

IIf you write about buildings, you sometimes show renovations of major national institutions. You are told that tens of millions of pounds of work is absolutely necessary to correct the shortcomings of previous projects 20 years or more ago. If you’ve been writing about buildings for long enough, you’ll be able to see the improvements you saw last time. Which, I suspect, will be the fate of the National Gallery’s plans to remodel the Sainsbury Wing, a unique and distinctive extension of its 1830s building completed in 1991, which was built to house the gallery’s collection of early Renaissance paintings.

The management of the National Gallery is trying to make the Sainsbury Pavilion the permanent main entrance to the entire vast complex, something it was never meant to be, in the process gently blowing away its interiors. Eight former presidents of the Royal Institute of British Architects protested, comparing it to “Airport lobby‘, as did the Twentieth Century Society. The project is due to be considered by the Westminster City Council Planning Committee. The gallery could avoid the future embarrassment of having to redo it by refusing permission now.

Get ready for the activity

A man in a beanie hangs from a balcony to turn off the electricity to a store sign
A member of On The Stop Parkour stops an illuminated store sign in Paris. Photo: Lafarge Raphael/Abaca/Rex/Shutterstock

Many of us who love fine art and our unexhausted planet were bewildered and conflicted when climate activists began throwing food In the paintings – Van Gogh in London, Monet in Potsdam. Yes, please protest, our souls went on guard, but what did the sunflower do to deserve this? Then it turned out that the works were behind glass, so they weren’t damaged. Young people began to think, brave, bless them. Anyway, there is another form of protest, even those with allergies can be late when they do parkour. Running faces of buildings To close shop signs that do not need lighting. Their goals are more deserving of the paintings and ballet works of the participants themselves are art.

over the creek

Getty in Seaford.
According to the campaign group Surfers Against Sewage Water, sewage companies release raw sewage into water on beaches around the English coast during the summer. Above, Seaford’s quayside. Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The dramatic brown slick that appeared off the Corniche coast last week wasn’t, as Southwest Water is careful to say, it’s made up entirely of sewage. SWW, the privatized company responsible for managing such things, admits that the overflow was “briefly run on”, but the unpleasant phenomenon was also caused by runoff from the fields. In any case they have an excuse – “dramatic changes in weather patterns caused by climate change”. But isn’t the private sector supposed to be all about risk and reward? SWW is supposed to accept benefits if a weather problem lowers its costs, so it must take responsibility for the effects, entirely unexpected, of global warming.

Leaves us cold

Architect's impression of the skyscraper against the background of London
Plans to build a 305-metre square meter for the Tulip Building in London were rejected in 2019. Photo: Foster + Partners/PA

Designs of skyscrapers that look like plants continue to appear. There is one proposed for London that claims to resemble tree leaves and pine cones. There are two in Singapore, one of which is designed by the esteemed giants SOM and the other by the start-up giants. big. The first is claimed to resembleBamboo forest‘, and the second has tendrils-like stripes rising from the outside. But, in fact, it does not look like plants, more than a pair of long ears make the child in the cradle-play look like a donkey.

The clever thing about nature is that it finds shapes and scales appropriate for a particular context and life form. In other words, what works for paper is not good for a steel and glass tower. Whatever else these projects may offer in terms of zero-waste construction and energy-efficient glass, it is hard to overstate how small their aesthetic impact on the planet may be.

Rowan Moore is the Observer’s engineering correspondent

Leave a Comment