We’re protecting the wrong kind of views

Our experience of cities is rarely static - views unfold as we move through them

It’s time to rethink the view protection system, argues Purcell’s Tom Brigden

Architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner considered the interlinking courtyards and passageways of Temple in London to be the city’s most beguiling sequence of urban spaces. The cinematic quality of moving through this area of London is a microcosm of the broader city. London’s visual experience is underpinned by these irregularities, which are the result of the slow and incremental evolution of the medieval street pattern and the “respectful variety” of accumulated buildings.

Pevsner’s street-level view of the city – and the experience of moving through its streets, passageways, courtyards and squares – has played a major part in defining the visual experience of London. So why does the construction of tall buildings across the capital continue to cause controversy and even alarm? Could the incremental development of tall buildings not also be considered just the latest manifestation of the city’s varied, incremental and perhaps even “picturesque” development?

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