An eyesore and a vanity project, un-English and out of keeping with the times... that was, once, the contrarian view of St Paul’s. Thankfully, Sir Christopher Wren ignored the critique of its “heavy arches” and accusations of Popish design, going so far as to hide the works behind screens so his controversial vision could succeed.
When I heard about the London Eye, I thought it sounded absurd. Experts derided the plan for Shakespeare’s Globe as Disneyfication. Because our city is magnificent already, it is easy for new additions to be feared and mocked. But London can’t be fossilised. Today, it is again a place where extraordinary, magical things can be built – and we should be proud. From the glittering towers of the City and Canary Wharf, to the Globe and the Eye, and most recently the Shard, the reinvention goes on. What was once scorned grows on us, adding another icon to the greatest city in the world.
So I hope it will prove with the Garden Bridge, a delightfully eccentric vision being realised by some of the country’s finest designers and engineers. It promises a garden view open to all from the world’s most exclusive real estate, the Thames, that will be maintained by a charity.
Sadly, despite a consultation finding overwhelming local support from over 85 per cent of respondents, the project’s virtues are in danger of being drowned out by its vocal critics. But there is still time. Two thirds of the necessary funds are being raised from private donations. Millions have been pledged already, and more generous support will help keep the project alive. London is already beautiful, but there is no such thing as too much beauty.