Good news for Iain Sinclair. The Temple of Mithras is going home.
First the back-story. Lost for centuries, the Roman temple was rediscovered in the 1950s, after the Luftwaffe gave excavations a head start. Subsequent poking around uncovered some of the most important archaeological finds in the city’s history. 1700 years of mithraic splendour, hidden right beneath the banker’s noses, was suddenly revealed.
So what did they do to this site of significant historical interest? Why, they dug it all up, of course, to make way for a new office complex. And not even a very good one.
The poor temple was pushed aside, and now languishes on the kingdom’s most anonymous dais in a grim section of Queen Victoria Street. The site isn’t just maligned, but also misaligned, facing east-west rather than north-south. It’s also raised above ground level, rather than partially subterranean. A Feng Shui nightmare.
But not for much longer. Remember that not-very-good office block we mentioned? It’s all set to come down thanks to a £300 million scheme by good old Lord Foster. The temple’s going to be moved back where it belongs. And more than that:
The development will centre around a new public square and streets based on historic routes through the site.
It’s a psychogeographer’s wet dream.
The scheme will be capped with a series of mid-rise towers, whose designs are not yet available, but:
The lightweight upper structure is designed to resemble clouds and will appear, from a distance, to float above the lower elements of the building and “shimmer” against the sky.
Marvellous. And on the same day we hear that 1 Westminster Bridge is finally going to be demolished.
Thanks, as always, to SkyscraperCity forums for the leads.