I was so upset by the design of a new development in Aldgate which has been much in the press in the last week that I went to see the Still and Star, the old pub which is being demolished and reconstructed as a green replica underneath a gigantic and unspeakably hideous new building:-
Of course, the pub on its own is nothing special: just a lone survival of a Victorian pub down an alleyway opposite the underground station. But it is representative of what is happening everywhere in Aldgate, Spitalfields and Shoreditch: the demolition of what remains of Victorian London and its replacement by big, faceless office blocks, which will probably only have a life of twenty five years, before being replaced by another bigger and more faceless block, thereby abolishing any sense of character at street level, the texture of urban life at a human scale. I’m sure the architect won’t mind, sitting behind a computer screen in a faceless office block; nor will the developer in his house in the country. But I mind at the way the character of the city, and more especially its fringes, is being eaten away and destroyed, desecrating any sense of the past.
This is Little Somerset Street, down which one finds the Still and Star:-
This is what’s left of the pub, now closed:-
And this is the development site with the name of the vandals proudly displayed:-