Since I am now living on the other side of the world to my family and most of my friends this blog is about things I enjoy, things I notice, people I meet, people I miss, history, planning for the future, love and life in general! I guess it's about whatever pops into my head which I want to share with my friends and family... and who knows? I might make some more friends along the way!

28 September, 2008

London Open House – Part 2 City Hall

The next day, Sunday, I went into the city again, and this time I got to play ‘tourist’, although beening a volunteer gave me priority access to any place I visited, that is, I got to jump the queue… I hadn’t intended to, but when I got to the City Hall there was a queue for security screening, and I really needed to use the bathroom… well it worked out in the end, coz I was a volunteer!

The City Hall did not disappoint! I went straight up to the 9th floor where I was able to walk around the balcony which has an almost 360 degree view of the River Thames, the Tower of London, the Tower Bridge and the city skyline, as well as the surrounding residential developments and landscape. I was also impressed with the solar panels which covered the roof of the landmark building.
Of course I went a bit snap happy, whilst up there, but I was really anticipating the amazing, spiral staircase which leads from the 9th floor down to the 2nd floor and directly into the Council Chamber itself!

Unfortunately they were filming a segment for a political TV show in there when I got to this point, but I was informed that they would be finished in a few minutes, so I went down to the lower ground floor and enjoyed the exhibition of Olympics inspired art, as well as getting to see the Olympic Flag, which London took possession of just a few weeks ago in Beijing! I took photos… of course… On my way down, and when I was in the exhibition, I met a wonderful lady. Actually I was looking at some artwork on the way down to the lower level, and paused to take some photographs. This lady was chatting with some other people and I thought she had a lovely vibe to her. A moment later she was chatting with me and I realised she was the artist whose work I was photographing, and she said she was happy for me to do so! I was taken with her sculpture of two synchronised divers and we chatted for a while, she was such a lovely person, very warm and her work had really caught my attention, with its Art Nuevo and Art Deco influences in the lines and shapes, and the colours she had selected where colour was used. Her name was Ginger Gilmour, and although a native of the USA, she now lives and works in the UK. We really clicked in a short time, and I came away with a lot of pictures of her lovely work, as well as a catalogue of her beautiful creations, which we both know I can’t afford, but she wanted me to have the pictures in it anyway. Her website is here:

After admiring the work in the lower ground floor gallery, I went back up to the 9th floor for the sole purpose of walking down again! It was well worth the wait, and the trip into London on this particular weekend!
The whole building seems to reject any preconcieved notion of what a building should look like, and is non-symmetric, but flowing, and despite some really odd angles to it, it feels balanced and secure! The views from outside were wonderful – the view from inside was fantastical! From above it looked like a glass whirlpool, or water funnel! It seemed like I was walking down a staircase which was impossible! It didn’t flow in concentric circles, nor did it really go in circles at all, but rather in ovals and swirls… it reminded me of an apple peeling a little… I took so many photos, and I really love them! There is, of course, a sizeable set in my flickr account here: and some of my favourites are here besides! The fact that I have never really given modern architecture much consideration, but now feel I am rather passionate about this building, as well as London’s famous ‘gherkin’ (30 St Mary’s Axe) says a lot about the impact of this remarkable vision made a reality!
As you can see from these few photographs the curves and glass and light gave me so much inspiration to photograph people, and objects and space in very different ways... It was a photographers dream!

I know I mentioned the solar panelling on the roof, but the use of natural light also adds to the ecological aspect of the offices, and the wide, sloping ramps in the public areas make it extremely user friendly for those in wheelchairs, or with prams.

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