London architecture: The old, the new, and the odd


The Cheese-grater and the Walkie-Talkie
The Gherkin








London is home to some oddly shaped structures with some great nicknames, such as the Cheese-grater and the Gherkin, but none is stranger than 20 Fenchurch Street, better known as the Walkie-Talkie, which was awarded Building Design magazine’s Carbuncle Cup (for the worst new building in Britain).

I suppose one person’s idea of beauty is another’s what-on-Earth-were-you-thinking?

It often struck me when bopping around London how much the old and the new live side by side. Among buildings that are centuries old are brand new glass and steel creations. There’s not one part of town that’s all new and one part that’s all old–they’re intertwined.

St. Paul's
St. Paul’s Cathedral
The Shard is 310 meters high.








St. Paul’s Cathedral, at 111 meters high, was London’s tallest structure in the 18th century, and it’s still the tallest church in the area. But the current title of tallest building in London belongs to the Shard, seen here against the walls of the venerable Tower of London.

And lots of construction is happening still. Just count the cranes in the above skyline panorama shot.

Peeking from behind the building below is a fairly recent tourist attraction called the London Eye, which for at least a few years was the largest Ferris wheel on Earth. It takes 30 minutes to make one complete circle. It didn’t IMG_0463appeal to me personally, but many love the view of Big Ben and the city from the large transparent pods.

Note: Big Ben is actually the name of the bell that chimes, but the clock tower has become so synonymous with the bell that everyone just calls the tower Big Ben.

London architecture spans centuries and I realized pretty quickly that it would take weeks to see it all. I guess I’ll have to go back some day…


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