A couple of months ago I caught the Eurostar train (or the Whoosh, as my friend Miranda always refers to it) from London to Paris. It was the first time I had seen the much praised* refurbishment of St Pancras station, the new Eurostar terminus in London.
What a disappointment!!
I was already familiar with St Pancras in its old, under-used guise as an extension of King's Cross station, and I had been shown around the adjoining Grand Midland Hotel some years ago, to see its abandoned Gothick splendours and catch a glimpse of a by-gone age of travel.
Revisiting, I expected to see sensitive and clever re-use of a marvellous and decoratively splendid space. What I saw was plate glass and polished steel, chopping up my sight lines in all directions. Everything, from the jumble of goods in the array of high street shops (chain stores), to the new bronze statuary, had to be viewed at least partly through the plate glass which was being used to divide up the space into different functionalities.
And while we are on the subject of sinking -- the statue of Betjeman is quite sweet, and you can at least get an unimpeded view of it, but what's with all the nautical references in the quotations from his poems? Surely the man wrote enough about train travel? -- there must have been something that could have been used that wouldn't have mystified travellers, even when those not familiar with his work are presented with a single line with no context to help make sense of it.
*Turns out to be rather 'much hyped'.
**That's architects of this ilk, not the architects I know are out there and understand how to set an old building up for modern use. I am also well aware that once the designer hands the project over to the men with the chequebooks, they often no longer have any influence.
***The caption on this picture, which I got from e-architect, says 'Concourse once airy and calm is overflowing with people and shops'.