Archilovers at London 2012

Citius, Altius, Fortius

by Malcolm Clark
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All over the world news programmes began this morning with a reminder that this evening there will be the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, about how it cost £27 million and the fact that it was directed by Trainspotter director Danny Boyle, the speculation about who will light the flame ….....

instead of boring you with the same things we are going to take a look at London 2012 from a different viewpoint which stems from the Olympic motto: Citius, Altius, Fortius.

These words called a Hendiatris – a three word slogan to emphasise a single idea – were proposed by Pierre de Cubertin in 1896. He had borrowed them from his friend and Dominican Priest Henri Didon and it became the official Olympic slogan in 1928. Although often considered to be comparative adjectives, they are actually comparative adverbs meaning Faster, Higher, Stronger in the sense of going faster, higher and stronger.

In this first “Tour” of London architecture and design we will use these three words to take you around some of London's newest architecture.

For “faster” we have selected Park Associati's itinerant restaurant The Cube London, perched on top of the Royal Festival Hall and designed for Electrolux as a temporary structure which can be taken down, shipped off and put up in another place in a matter of days, where top chefs prepare their dishes for the diners. It is open from 1st June to the 30th September.

For “Higher” we have, of course, chosen the newly crowned tallest building in Europe, Renzo Piano's 87-floor skyscraper, Shard / London Bridge, the tapering fragment which has been thrust into London's skyline in time for the Olympics.

For the last adverb “Stronger” we have chosen the The Arcelor Mittal Orbit, that controversial observation tower, designed by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond of the London Practice ARUP associates, intended to remain as a legacy of London 2012. This sculpture, the largest piece of public art in the UK, is located in the Olympic park in Stratford London and has been greeted (as with almost all architectural structures) with mixed views ranging from praise for its bold design to criticism for it looking like “twisted spaghetti” which gave it its other nickname of the “Eyeful Tower”.

Say what you like, the first Gold Medal of these Olympics definitely goes to London. Indeed, over the last few years, since 2005 when its bid for the 2012 Olympics surprisingly beat Paris' one by just 4 votes, London has undergone a transformation which 7 years ago, in the wake of the London bombs, would have seemed impossible.

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    The Cube London 45

    The Cube London

    London / United Kingdom / 2012

    The Shard / London Bridge Tower 299

    The Shard / London Bridge Tower

    London / United Kingdom / 2012

    The Arcelor Mittal Orbit 20

    The Arcelor Mittal Orbit

    London / United Kingdom / 2012