Friday, 11 May 2012

Colour explosion at Kings Cross

This splash of colour is what used to be the worthy but dull Kings Cross branch of Barclays Bank. As a matter of fact the bank is still there, but the rest of the building is a newish fashionable hotel, the Megaro, with interior designed rooms at more than 200 quid a night. At first sight it's quite striking, but a splash of colour is all it is, there's nothing very inspired about the design, and it completely muddles the architectural language of the building. It's not illegal (although it's in a conservation area no planning permission was required) but you could say it's short-sighted, not really worth the permanent damage.

The hotel is a typical London block, built in the early twentieth century in red brick with lots of fine carved limestone details, nothing very exciting by London standards, but just try looking for that kind of thing in an American city, for example. That paint is guaranteed for twenty years, apparently, but the novelty is going to wear off much sooner than that. Will it come off? No, most unlikely: even intensive graffiti removal techniques don't entirely remove all the paint, and over an entire building that would be ridiculously expensive. Sandblasting might work but it destroys the surface of bricks. So the original natural materials are likely to be covered up permanently.

One can only hope the owners will keep the facades freshly painted, and maybe next time do something that actually makes use of the architecture instead of camouflaging it.

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