The Ruin of the Bank of England

This is a painting of John Soane’s Bank of England, brilliantly imagined by one of his draftsmen Joseph Gandy. The painting shows a ruin, an almost castle-like depiction of what the famous bank may one day turn into, a timeless ruin. The drawing is of a romanticised styling and was of course drawn as a means of promoting the epic nature of Soane’s work as a landmark, but i like the stance of seeing the life cycle of your building in an entirety, upholding the notion of impermanence in architecture. The result of contemplating this impermanence is perhaps on occasion insightful for designers, at least it could pose questions of the durability of design, and lead to design decisions of an evolving architecture.

Currently, its hard to see this bastion of traditional finance and guard of the vaults of England ever changing, especially whilst considering the City of London’s values on tradition. Although in fact the building has historically developed and been adapted to the varying needs of new generations of hopeful money guzzlers. Part of the bank has already been converted into a museum, and with more skyscraper banks being extruded with increasing rapidity into the city’s skyline who knows where the emphasis of capital will lie. Maybe it will share a similar fate to the Royal stock exchange, its neighbour, which has been converted into a high-end shopping mall, lined with the most pretentious outlets known to man, and also the most pretentious men known to outlets. I wonder in the end which fate Soane would of preferred, probably the ruinous shell.

To finish this post I would just like to forward the idea of working backwards from collapse to creation. As a process this system could raise certain design questions that otherwise may never of cropped up, such as addressing future planning, and imagining future demographics. Contemplating many modern buildings dilapidation would lack the grace of the classical palette executed by Gandy, however as a thought process a richness of ideas can blossom when thinking of sustainability way past the here and now… even til the inevitable death of your building?

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