Sunday, December 27, 2020



Project Soane, extended version.  The Bank of England began as a group of non-conformist merchants,, many of them Huguenots, who came up with a scheme to elbow their way in to the mainstream financial world of 17th century London.  It was a variation of a proposal that had been tried before, but on this occasion, the timing was right.

They proposed to raise large amounts of money for the government to fight a war with France, by selling shares in a joint stock company.  This company went on to become the premier financial institution mediating between government and private enterprise: the Bank of England. 

They began in a small way in rented premises belonging to the Worshipful Company of Grocers, set back from the main street in an enclosed courtyard.  I started to model this building a couple of years ago but didn’t get very far and it seemed like a manageable task to occupy me for a few days taking it to a shareable level.


The family I originally made for the pointed-arch windows came before Project Notre Dame and wasn’t really parametric.  I decided this was a good time to revisit my modular door/window families and extend the system to cover different kinds of arched heads.  I also wanted a standardised approach to adapting the system for archways with no nested components visible in the project.

So now I have four variants: half round, flat, pointed and segmental.  The formula requirements for these are slightly different, but once set up they work consistently and different nested components for the frames and “doorsets” can be swapped out very easily.  Double, single, plain, panelled … frames with fanlights.  It’s a good start.


Back in the Grocer’s Hall things are shaping up.  The large triple-height central space was the great public pay hall where all the major financial transactions took place.  I don’t have much information on this, (no interior views) so it was an interesting opportunity to do some conjectural modeling, trying to conjure up the atmosphere of a medieval livery hall.


The main source of information here is Daniel Abramson’s book “Building the Bank of England” which has some hand-drawn floor plans (probably deduced from written descriptions?) and a front elevation showing the main façade and its forecourt, date unknown, I’m guessing around 1700?  One of my main goals is to understand and communicate the organisational structure of the bank in it’s earlieast incarnation.  This will help us to track how that structure was mapped onto new spaces as the bank continued to expand.

So I have managed to develop this model far enough to set up two drawing sheets with a variety of different views, some reference images and a bunch of text.  Some of it is loose text some has been embedded and tagged.  Ultimately it would be good to covert all of this into embedded data, but it’s not altogether clear where to embed some of this history. 

Be that as it may, I’m quite pleased with the way the story is conveyed.  I have linked back the context model from a previous post so that you can see the relationship of the Grocers Hall to the future site, and to the Mercer’s Hall which they rented briefly in 1694.  This illustrates very clearly how they moved closer and closer to the Royal Exchange as they grew in size and confidence.

You can download a 2 page PDF here

Grocers Hall Sheet Set


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