Tuesday, 20 April 2010

one of the younger fellows, Howard Colvin … believed that the new project demanded a “frankly contemporary treatment which would make no concessions to the adjoining buildings except in such matters as scale and material”.

Geoffrey Tyack, Modern Architecture in an Oxford College 1945 - 2005

We wanted something new. You see
There was a kind of playschool
Surety back then, every degree
Counted, every man could rule
A line back to the source, and spin
The other way and see it shoot
In fractal patterns out of his ken,
Upending the official route.
We wanted something new, and we
Would sacrifice most anything
(Well, decorum definitely)
To get our gawky, sky-jostling
Ruck with nature set in knifey
Portland stone. Of course, I know
Time hasn’t widened out the way
We reckoned all those years ago.
You plan for that, allow for that.
I know the building might have housed
The odd careerist democrat
Or two, and yes, we missed
Our chance to make a truly ideal
Hive, a fair organic whole.
That too was calculable.
Facts played their usual role.
What niggles like a buzzing clock
Are certain Belgian sightseers,
How they so leisurely mock
Our bid to level with the stars,
How smiling artisans can stare
Me dead in the eye, ecstatically
Perplexed when I say future.
We wanted something new, you see.

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