Saturday, 20 June 2009

Adelaide House, London Bridge EC4

Adelaide House is one of the more prominent monuments to City greed and bad taste between the wars. It was built in 1920-25 to the designs of Sir John Burnet.
The vaguely Egyptian style is said to be the result of a visit there he made to build a war memorial. It is very flashy for Burnet, who was a pioneer of the reduction of ornament in favour of clean lines, but the City often seems to bring out the worst in great architects.
The unforgivable crime is the way it wraps round and crushes the lovely Wren spire of St Magnus next door.
Even the allegorical stone figure over the entrance seems wrapt in gloom. She holds a globe with a band of astrological signs in her hands, as if contemplating a future London full of buildings like Adelaide House.
The lady was carved by Sir William Reid Dick, and seems to have been chiselled directly out of the wall - see how the joints run through the wall and the figure.

1 comment:

David Flood said...

I love this building as it has happy memories for me. Following my appointment to H M Customs and Excise in 1952 my first posting was to the Cash Branch which was on the Ground Floor on the North side. I left there in summer 1954 to work at Victoria Wharf, Limehouse/Regents Canal Dock, E14.
During some of that period I cycled from my "digs" in Blackheath and Lewisham, being allowed to keep my cycle in the basement. Difficult to imagine the same journey by cycle in 2011!
I have no problem with the look(s) of the building although I do not welcome the alteration to the foyer.which is as far as I got on a recent visit.
David Flood