No-nonsense broadcaster Robert Elms adores Lasdun’s austere Thamesside masterpiece, but has no time for showy St Pancras
The National Theatre in London is glorious. It is Denys Lasdun’s absolute masterpiece. I like a straight line – I think elegance is all. I also think that, like most great buildings, it’s gone through a journey of being incredibly unpopular. First it was a huge critical success, then hugely unpopular and now, generations later, people realise it’s a massively successful building. That’s where some people are, anyway – maybe not everyone yet. Walk along the Thames at night and look across at the building – it looks wonderful. I’ve never been inside – I can’t stand the theatre – but the outside is perfect.
St Pancras station is my least favourite building. It’s just silly. It’s so ornamental and I don’t like ornament very much. I like a little restraint in life. It’s a building as designed by
an undergraduate. I hate Gaudí, for example – it’s sixth-form common room architecture that shows off. If you stand in front of St Pancras, you’ve got King’s Cross to the right, which is a great station, really elegant and austere. I would always have been a roundhead, not a cavalier.
Broadcaster and journalist Robert Elms’ latest book, The Way We Wore, is published by Picador