Architect Ken Allinson finds a London police station arresting, but asks what's going on ‘ere with security guards
My wonder is McMorran's City Wood Street police station in London. It is an idiosyncratic Italian palazzo stripped to the point of abstraction and strangeness - even neglecting the presence of men in blue, their stables and kennels - complete with central court, a bachelor accommodation tower, vents disguised as chimneys and a lobby wall decorated with stones from Roman foundations.
The building is now neighboured by two Wren churches, a stranded Wren church tower, five former graveyards and a gaggle of post-war and contemporary buildings - three by Foster, a Farrell, a Grimshaw, a Rogers, a Sheppard Robson. All of it is centred around the former Roman fortress whose north-south axis was Wood Street itself, leading towards the gated fortress of the Barbican. Sweet absurd joy.
Meanwhile the architectural blunder is to allow the privatisation of public spaces, highways, rights of way and all such places. This is where people such as myself are engaged by aggressive security guards who lay a guilt trip on us about terrorism when all we want to do is enjoy the architecture and take a photo. Wake up everyone.
Ken Allinson, architectural consultant and founding trustee of London Open House, is the author of London's Contemporary Architecture: An Explorer's Guide, fourth edition, available from Elsevier, £18.99