Architectural Irony


A few weeks ago they pulled down my local filling station. Then a new filling station was built which looks like an idealised garage from the 1920s, only now it’s actually a trendy restaurant called The Filling Station. What makes it doubly confusing is that the gas station used to sell food. But it’s fun to watch cars try to pull in and fill up, only to be asked if they have a reservation.

Of course, London endlessly recycles its old buildings (the hair grooming brand ‘Fish’ was developed by the barbers who took over a Soho fish shop) but this is the first time I can recall a building being demolished and replaced with a fantasised version.

Until last year there was a genuine pastel-coloured 1920s gas station in Bloomsbury that always turned up in Poirot TV shows. I think it’s now a florist. London has some great art deco buildings – it’s a pity more aren’t constructed

7 comments on “Architectural Irony”

  1. Dan Terrell says:

    I’m warming up to this architectural-irony thing, but of all your many articles, these posts on humo(u)r in the recontruction/representation of London buildings have seemed the oddest.
    It’s not a U.S. thing – jump in if I’m wrong here fellow N.A.s -, because we have such strong and complex building construction/safety/historical preservation codes that you wouldn’t get the approvals. This might not be true for buildings in revenue-challenged sections of cities (parts of L.A., Chicago, Dallas, etc.) or small towns looking for drive-through business, but I can’t picture a Vietnamese noodle place done up as a humongous steaming Pho bowl across say from the U.S. Treasury and probably not in Times Square either, now that’s Disney’s cleaned it up.
    But we do have a vast national collection of roadside folk/accomplishment/product constuctions: Paul Bunyan & his Blue Ox, the amber waves of the Golden Arches, a truly huge doughnut with sprinkles, a bi-plane or a spaceship, a giant onion, a huge peach, an ear of sweet corn, etc. I once saw an overpoweringly tall Marilyn Monroe with her skirt blown up. Tastefully done, may I note. Do you have such things?

  2. Cindie says:

    And Dan, don’t forget Cadillac Ranch! Bet the U.K. has nothing like that. Or maybe they do, only it’s called Bentley Ranch.

  3. Helen Martin says:

    We have a gigantic nickel(coin), a Ukrainian Easter egg, a lobster, a logger made of huge tree sections, and a landing place for space ships in Vulcan (naturally) Alberta. No, they’re not all in Vulcan, but I refuse to rewrite the sentence. There’s a giant Canada goose in Wawa, Ontario, too – but that’s because that’s a Cree (I think) word for goose. More to the point, there’s a shopping centre named for the racetrack that used to be there and they use race horses as their logo. Old Orchard shopping Centre has not one orchard tree and so it goes.

  4. snowy says:

    OK I confess my name is snowy and I adore Art Deco, its a fantastic meeting of modern design and superb craftmanship. And one day I will go here.

  5. Dan Terrell says:

    Art Deco was cool, but now they’re tearing most of them down here.

  6. Richmonde says:

    Where’s here, Dan? I love Art Deco garages. There’s one in Stamford Hill that’s also a kosher food shop.

  7. Helen Martin says:

    There’s one in Vancouver that is still a filling station, I think, and one that has just been left as part of a building.

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