#5: Colours. Yes, with a ‘u.’
There are infinite shadings of light and shadows and colors. – Conrad Hall
One of the things that I fell in love with in London is the architecture. I wouldn’t even consider myself an amateur of the subject, but there are so many interesting landmarks in the city, it’s hard not to wonder why one looks a certain way, and another different. After all, St. Paul’s Cathedral is very Roman, while Westminster Palace (Big Ben) is Gothic. The Gherkin and Shard are different forms of modern, and the majority of the city is heavily saturated in Victorian influences. The whole city is a patchwork quilt of styles and symbolism, and one of the great regrets is that between the London fire of 1666 and the Blitz as part of World War II, many amazing buildings were permanently lost. While I love the signature pieces in the London skyline, it’s a more subtle thing which I realized on one of my first epically sunny days in the past year: London is infinitely colorful.
Some combination of brick and limestone creates a palate of colors on every street. I noticed it first on the edge of the city near Chancery Lane station, where white stone and dark wood are quintessentially English Cottage. Other streets feature tall skinny buildings all stuck next to one another (I’m sure there’s an architectural name for this, but heck if I can figure out how to google it), all with a slight deviation from the red brick or white limestone base. Some feature stripes, some feature solids with unique variations among every stone. Each one creates a blur of color that’s best highlighted on a sunny day, but can certainly be seen if you look out from under your umbrella on a rainy one.
I’ve long admired that the myriad of styles built in London fit so well together. Paris, which I consider to be the most conventionally beautiful city in the world, is designed to look put together, just like Parisians take time to fit each piece in an outfit for maximum fashionable effect. London, like so many Londoners, is piecemeal, made of favorites, new additions, and occasionally something really wacky but distinctly unique in the world.