Like a vast nuclear submarine rising from the Thames, this curvaceous building might have dominated the South Bank, had plans from the early 1950s gone ahead.
This is the vision of Sir Misha Black (perhaps best noted for designing Westminster's street signs), as a proposal for the 1951 Festival of Britain. The plans were not taken forward and, instead, we got the Royal Festival Hall and (later) National Theatre.
A few things we noticed
- The disc-shaped observation platform. This would have towered more than 450 metres (1,500 feet) above London. That's much taller than The Shard, and would have made this the tallest structure in the world at the time.
- The building is so humongous that people are actually sailing yachts on one of the terraces.
- London's most pointless dual carriageway engirdles the building. It offers no visible access roads to Waterloo Bridge or anywhere else in view. Black's original plans suggest that the roadway spirals upwards around the outside of the building, but here the upper levels are pedestrianised.
- Look at all those trees! They're not present to anything like this degree in Black's original sketch. A South Bank forest would be excellent.
- On the other hand, the long glass pavilion would ruin views of the Thames, while the towering structure and flyover would cast the South Bank promenade in near-permanent shadow.
Who made this?
Black's plans have long been in the public domain. Here's an original sketch.
The new image at the top of this article was created by NeoMam Studios for online lenders QuickQuid. We wouldn't normally recirculate this kind of stealth-marketing but, as with the recent (and very similar) initiative from a property company, we judge the picture to be of genuine interest to our readers.
QuickQuid have pushed the boat out further and imagined other unbuilt structures around Britain. We're particularly impressed with this alternative Clifton Suspension Bridge, which is arguably more striking than the famous Brunel landmark.