Philip Wildman stands up and salutes a Tube station that doubles as a dystopic film set, but is bent out of shape by a museum
I found it difficult at first to choose a wonder. It’s my impression that over the past decade or two, architects and designers have begun to consider the built environment in human terms. Quite right, too; if people can look forward to visiting public spaces or occupying buildings, their contentment must surely have a positive effect on them.
I’m a bit of a traditionalist, and the sensitive adaptation of buildings, such as on the Southwark embankment by London Bridge, gives me a lift. This is not to deny the grandeur of modern buildings, and some in the City really stand out, such as Swiss Re. A wonder does need grandeur but my final choice can only be seen from underground: it’s the ascent to the surface at Westminster Tube station. In many ways it is all that I like least – steel and bare concrete – but the sheer scale of it, and the clever way it uses function as the “decor”, takes the breath away. And, as a bonus, it’s like being on the set of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.
Blunders are more a question of disappointment than real hate. I have to go for Daniel Libeskind’s Imperial War Museum North in Manchester. Not only does it seem to me to fight the rest of the development, but it seems as though shape has triumphed for its own sake.
Philip Wildman is director of the Construction Industry Trust for Youth