Where Angels Fear to Tread

It’s always interesting to see a familiar building from a different perspective, especially one that controversially clashes a classical masterpiece with a gleaming glass office tower, right beside each other. A risky undertaking.

One New Change is the only shopping centre in the City of London, designed by French ‘starchitect’, Jean Nouvel. During its planning and construction it gained considerable criticism from the likes of Prince Charles, but up it went and it remains a controversial building. But it does call into question the relationship we need to have with these ancient buildings where modern development threatens to undermine and compromise their very existence as it increasingly hems them in.

It’s a sensitive location for a retail / office complex, being as it is directly opposite Christopher Wren’s magnificent St Paul’s Cathedral. Again, it’s a development that has divided people into the LOVE IT / HATE IT camps. I’m on the fence on this one, other than loving a particular stand-out feature.

It has a large wrap-around roof terrace that affords a spectacular upfront view of St Paul’s and across the city skyline, with the dome of the cathedral front and centre, as if within touching distance.

The roof terrace should (could) be wonderful, and I’m sure it is on a weeknight. We were there on a Saturday in the late chilly afternoon when the roof top bar was unexpectedly heaving with a young party crowd drinking lurid cocktails in skimpy nightclub outfits. Loud doof doof music blasted out of surround speakers. The packed glass lift which is the only way up and down was jammed solid, gorging more and more people into the tight roped off space.

We squeezed gingerly past and out to the viewing platform. And the stunning view!

But I’m afraid the unwelcome noise cast somewhat of a shadow over what would otherwise be a uniquely heavenly view of London, high above the city din, almost at dome level.

Perhaps I’m turning (turned even?) into an old fuddy-duddy, but I’d like to think that a spot like this, so close to one of the most stunning domed cathedrals in the world would demand more respect (perhaps particularly in light of the devastating fire at Notre Dame overnight. So incredibly sad).

Meanwhile, I’m a sucker for glass reflections, so One New Change provides some truly different perspectives that are worth checking out, so if you’re thinking of going there, go in the week outside of bar hours. Oh, and a sunny warm day might be wise too. The view is spectacular! (If there aren’t yoga classes or people watching Wimbledon as the website advertises – Ant).

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