You may have noticed that very bright colours are in at the moment. Gone is the sterile white and grey and glass and concrete of the past few years, and everything now looks like a rainbow is being sick over it. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Improved lighting techniques are changing night skylines all over the world. When they’re unsophisticated, you get a purple neon key line around all the buildings, but when they’re done subtly you turn a concrete bunker (say, the National Theatre, London) into a stunning wall of light.
This happens every few years, spurred by improvements in technology and the fact that everything is cyclical. Drab, respectable Camden Town exploded into colours in the 1980s. But buildings can also then become quite age-specific in whom they appeal to. If you’re a teenager you may love to see a giant pair of boots stuck to the side of a building more than if you’re a sixty year-old who remembers it as a graceful Edwardian structure now obscured.
Which brings us, it seems, to the Euston Road, London – an unlovely stretch of tarmac largely obscured by trucks and buses, and one of the unhealthiest thoroughfares through the city. It has a mix of elegant Edwardian buildings and some ugly horrors, like the monstrous Camden Town Hall, so when the building opposite King’s Cross station dropped its dust sheets yesterday and did this…
…well, a few eyebrows were raised. They didn’t need permission because it was planned by the owner and he is allowed to do so under his local laws (not so in the next borough over, Westminster, who would have refused it). Actually, it looks better than the photo suggests, and brightens up a notoriously drab road. But the problem is that it will require a lot of upkeep. And the paint cannot ever be completely removed from the brick, so next time around, if a new owner has had enough of it, the whole building will have to be painted white.
Meanwhile, it seems every building in the city is getting coloured lights at night – most are subtle, a few not so. What happens when the fad for rainbowfication dies?