Bad neighbours · vista

Vista 8: a tale of two spires


The uniform brutalist offices in Bristol’s historic city centre contrast with the soaring spire of the medieval St John’s. Is this more crass than the view of the soaring spire of London’s Shard viewed through the pinnacles of Southwark Cathedral? Or is the latter more aesthetically pleasing? Bad neighbours or good neighbours?

Shard spire


4 thoughts on “Vista 8: a tale of two spires

  1. George Kelly (psychologist and educator) says that you need contrasts in order to understand the world. Anything by itself is meaningless without something to compare it to. So the architectural contexts make your spires easier to notice. Which is not to defend hideous modern architecture!


    1. Aesthetics are a funny thing: I like the Shard and, even allowing for the difference in scale, love the back referencing to medieval pinnacles and spires. Whereas the 60s offices in Bristol, while in scale, are unsympathetic in terms of materials and sheer blandness.


  2. As a fan of both modern and traditional architecture, I love these photographs. While I agree that good architecture is sympathetic to its surroundings, being too sympathetic can lead to pastiche (Prince Charles’ village for example) that becomes almost a mockery of the original, especially in cities where you will always have a clash of old and new.


    1. Totally agree, Dylan. If you’re going to add to the built environment you need that subtle interplay between politeness and innovation called taste. Love it or loathe it, the Shard has an artistic integrity that the Bristol development lacks completely — though I sneakily published the Bristol photo in monochrome the buildings really are that colour: grey!


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