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Architecture from the road

As a dedicated pedestrian I consider architecture as something to be savoured from street level and at walking pace. Then you can enjoy the details, peer in the windows or, if it is boring and bland, wonder just how long it will be before this dreary building finishes.

As a dedicated pedestrian I consider architecture as something to be savoured from street level and at walking pace. Then you can enjoy the details, peer in the windows or, if it is boring and bland, wonder just how long it will be before this dreary building finishes.

But yesterday I was on a bus travelling from Oxford to London, in that privileged elevated position that is so much more fun than being in a car. And I was reminded just how differently one experiences buildings. So, travelling in on elevated stretches of road, one looks at the relationship between towers and other new large buildings, as they appear to move relative to each other.

The Hoover building with its troubled history and its current partial occupation by Tesco is, of course, a joy and one could almost wish for a traffic jam or at least a bit of a holdup while going past.

But it is also a real billboard of a building, an experience that can well be savoured at high speed. This was a salutary reminder that different buildings work in different ways at different speeds, and that the experiences of the cyclist, the walker, the driver, the bus passenger and the train traveller are all very different. If we really want to understand our cities and their buildings, we should travel by as many different means as possible.

Ruth Slavid

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