The architecture of Europe tells us so much about the rich history of the continent, and individually a country’s buildings in stature, condition and design cannot help but communicate to a visitor the very character of its environment. Most buildings make no secret of their purpose through an inevitably appropriate design, such as the Colosseum telling us from mere sight that it is an amphitheatre, and hence giving the viewer information about an aspect of Roman life just by observing it. As human structures, buildings speak volumes of the time in which they were originally built, with consequent amendments potentially showcasing the change in tastes and circumstance of a people over time, with shifts in ruling body, religious values, and materials available.
Within capital cities the buildings become particularly prominent from a tourist’s point of view, with a monument rising up as the most iconic thing in the city. Not only is it heavily visited and photographed, but immortalised in every type of souvenir imaginable; great palaces reduced to a mere image on a key ring or mouse mat. The building becomes a symbol for the whole city, or even country. When in Paris as a child, I was excited to ascend all the way to the top of the famous Eiffel Tower, only to discover when I got there that the view of the city was definitely missing something.
The Eiffel Tower is the global icon of France, and one of the most recognisable structures in the world, to the point that when seen in films or adverts it is actually intrinsically associated with the romance and grace of Parisian life.
A building can become the ‘heart’ of a city in this way, inseparably linked to feelings for the place as a whole rather than an appreciation for why or how it exists.
In this drawing…