Open House London: The City Hall

The City Hall in London is a truly iconic building sitting gleefully by the Thames River at More London. It is (literally) a tilted silver egg – a truly astonishing and inedible one.

The building is a vortex drawing the audience from the bottom level upwards. The spiraling ramp rolling through the whole building offers views of the beautiful capital as well as all the offices located around the ramp.

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The entrance to the building is surprisingly anti-climactic. The entrance door is quite narrow and almost disguised. The interior, on the other hand, offers quite the view. A massive lighting structure hangs from the ceiling on ground level. Strips of spiraling mirrors on black material hover over the entrance and the cafe on the lower level. These stips of circular mirrors on the ceiling are almost a graphic representation of the whole building. The yellow color of the wall connecting the door to the main elevator give the place a vibrant atmosphere and contract the black of the lighting above. The layers of different materials visible upon entering the building are a visual treat.

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The full glass facade of the building envelops not only the exterior but also the interior. Most of the occupiable space is enclosed in between layers of glass that circumscribe the shape of the building. The hollow space in the interior in the midst of the spiraling stairs is a true spectacle. Although completely empty except for on the lower levels and the uppermost level, the void within the egg is what makes the building unique. Because of the slanted shape of the structure, the spiral stairs circumscribing the interior offer excellent views of the city and the building itself. Everywhere you look is worthy of capturing a photograph. The completely exposed steel structure creates the most elegant photographic compositions with the cloudy blue sky and London behind the glass.

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Beneath the hollow center, on the first floor, is an auditorium. The auditorium is the largest part of the vortex that is the spiraling structure inside; hence it draws attention from the whole building upon itself. Even from the uppermost level, the auditorium is visible and I imagine the acoustics would allow the sound to disperse throughout the building from the auditorium upwards. Although the placement of the auditorium is quite clever, the level itself is not too impressive. The purple carpet covering the floor looks rather tacky, juxtaposing the elegant steel structure. The exit from the auditorium is also not too pleasant. The path to the exit is confusing and requires meandering around the seats. Even if the first level seems to have been neglected in terms of its interior design, it does not detract from the overall spectacle of the building.

The offices are placed quite strategically around the ramp. There is a prevailing sense of surveillance which creates a surprisingly productive and appropriate atmosphere. The public stairs are overlooking the offices and the offices are overlooking London, embodying the relationship between the public and the government. It is as if employees of the City Hall are constantly to be reminded of their responsibilities to and power over the capital.

Overall, the City Hall is an astounding building; an icon, an excellent administrative building, and a constant reminder of the creative potential of the capital.

 

Relevant Links:

https://openhouselondon.open-city.org.uk/

 

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