Glass Half Full

By Londonist Last edited 140 months ago
Glass Half Full

Celebrating the capital's carbuncles, misfits and ne'er-do-wells.

1. The Millennium Dome

It might be lambasted as any number of journalistic clichés that are applied to failure, from ‘white elephant’ to ‘waste of taxpayers’ money’, but I think this building is anything but.

Misunderstood from its birth, the architectural quality of the scheme has soared over the heads of most, who instead concentrate on the budget. The Richard Rogers Partnership attempted to do exactly what Tony Blair desired in planning ‘a triumph of confidence over cynicism, boldness over blandness, excellence over mediocrity’.

Harking back to the glorious post-war success of the Festival of Britain, it’s a combination of the two leading buildings of that event, now both sadly demolished. The main white canopy evokes the Dome of Discovery with a curving surface and cathedral-like internal space. The poles clearly reference the sculptural appearance of Skylon, erupting unexpectedly from the main structure to create a dramatic roof-line.

It is unfair to blame the building for the flop of an exhibition that filled its first year. Roger’s did exactly what he was commissioned to do and came up with a structure that London would be much worse off without. It is, in my opinion, worth every penny of the £789 million cost.

Sadly, however, the official name has since been changed to the ‘O2’, marking the end of an era. If only Orange could have sponsored it instead, and painted it the colour of their brand. On the 30th anniversary of Star Wars, we could have had a Tatooine-like twin orange sunrise in the east.

By James Newman

Last Updated 26 May 2007