Monday, 19 January 2015
Natural History Museum
Waterhouse's Hintze Hall is heavy with joy, playful pleasure runs up every column. I cannot go to the Natural History Museum without absorbing some measure of the child-like delight taken by the terracotta designers in layering creatures on textures on geometries. In imitation of a vital ecosystem, thronging and humming, this Victorian cathedral rings with a chorus of harmonic variety. To my taste the balance between structural adventure and ornamental loading is found exactly, the figurative work is never ponderous, the effect of terracotta cladding never an excuse for fakery. The light filled canopy of steel rafters is an array of nimble fronds, while equally the launch of stairs feels contemporary in its acrobatics. Building like this begins with wonder, I pray I never lose it.