While the form of Jean Nouvel’s One New Change is designed to respect views of St Paul’s Cathedral, the mixed-use scheme has an exotic geometry that contrasts with its ’polite’ neighbours
Building next to St Paul’s is always going to be tricky. As the epicentre of London’s vain attempt to impose some kind of rationale on the beautiful mess of its development, the cathedral – particularly its dome – has become the arbitrary datum from which everything must be judged. Not only is it the fulcrum of a lopsided starburst of viewing corridors, which radiate out to the suburbs from its sacred centre, but it sets the height beneath which all its neighbours must kowtow to preserve its premier position on the skyline. It is the symbolic kernel around which the whole city is deferentially choreographed. Add to this the quagmire of objections and constraints to building in such a sensitive location, and it is a miracle that a project so brazenly modern as Jean Nouvel’s glistening mixed-use mountain ever made it to fruition...
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Originally published in BD, 5 November 2010