Urban Adventures

Building upwards - 1946

Design for a suggested development of multi-storey buildings surrounding St Paul's Cathedral

Design for a suggested development of multi-storey buildings surrounding St Paul's Cathedral, 1946
Drawing
Artist and designer: Joseph Emberton
© RIBA Library Drawings and Archives Collections


This drawing by Modernist pioneer Joseph Emberton highlights the scale of ambition shared by many architects immediately after World War II. Framing St Paul's Cathedral, Emberton's proposed skyscrapers recede into the distance, and before them is a wide, clear avenue in a city cleared of its previous dense, but low-rise urban landscape.

A radical solution to wartime destruction, the drawing is informed by earlier ideas of redevelopment from the late 1920s and early 1930s, particularly the planning and writings of Le Corbusier. The towers' cruciform plan resembles those in Le Corbusier's Plan Voisin, a grand and unrealised scheme that would have transformed the centre of Paris. Like Le Corbusier, Emberton may have envisioned super-highways connecting his towers and allowing the car to reign supreme over the pedestrian.  

 

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