Hello 2021. Catching up on work I did in mid-December. Starting with a quote from my “LIVE” LinkedIn
posts at the time.
"Assembling reference material in
preparation for a model of Taylor's wall. Only need to tackle one half, given
the symmetry of the two wings. Looking forward to a productive weekend on the ..."
of England / BIM360 / way-we-build # # #
Taylor built two new wings, one to
the East and later on its symmetrical twin, creating a grand Palace front
facing Threadneedle Street and spanning the entire city block from Princes St
to Bartholomew Way. Quite a
stroke of luck, (by the way) that Sampson’s Bank was so well placed at the centre
of a city block.
The original Bartholomew Way was not at right angles to
Threadneedle Street, but Taylor squared the corner up. As a result widens considerably from South to
North even today. The SE extension came
first, with four Transfer Offices to deal with the rapidly expanding market in
War-loan shares issued by the Bank.
I need a column. Start with the closest standard item from my modular
library. This is a double-nested planting category RFA to allow scaling. Open it in family editor, select the nested “INNER”
and open that. Three parts here (Base
Shaft Capital) Don’t mess with the
capital unless you have to, rather complex.
The base needs to be plainer and the proportions generally taller and
thinner. So delete the void cuts on the
plinth reduce the profiles of the sweeps, stretch the plinth up. Open the shaft and stretch that up. Now it will overlap the capital so that needs
to be moved up to compensate. So in 15
or 20 minutes I have the column I need (round fluted Corinthian with a
The ability to have half or ¾ columns
is built in to my system. Half columns
can wrap the corner with an instance tick-box but that’s not needed in this
So what about the spacing. Is it completely regular? I don’t think so. Seems to me he had to tighten things up a
little around the corner. I do some studies
with dimensioned drafting lines to come up with a spacing that works for
me. This is complicated by the position
of the central door. In reality the East
wing was out of square in all kinds of minor ways. This is not reflected in my model (A) because
we don’t have reliable information, and (B) because it would be an absolute
pain to force Revit to place walls at fractions of a degree, and (C) because
dimensioning would also be a nightmare.
But the knock on effect is that the
centre of the doorway on Bartholomew Way is probably a couple of feet further to
the North than it should be. These small
discrepancies build up. So I varied the
spacing either side of the door and you don’t really pick it up. Our eye-brain system is so used to assuming
symmetry from minimal cues that our subconscious does the necessary.
Another direct quote from my LinkedIn
"First mock up of Taylor's screen
walls, framing Sampson's Bank of England like two bookends. It's not going to
be fully symmetrical in practice. More on that over the weekend, (which starts
I do like the upper part of this
image with most of the context unloaded.
You get a really good feel for how close the bank is to Grocer’s hall,
and to the way that Taylor extended Sampson’s composition from a substantial town
house, to a grand palace. Shades of
Palladio here, although his side wings were farmhouse barns. Could there be an interesting metaphor
here? Bank of England as gentleman
farmer. Interestingly enough, several of
the Bank’s directors did buy up properties in East Anglia and build themselves
country homes to signal their arrival amid the landed classes. Like the Veneto, this is relatively flat
countryside with a network of drainage ditches and canals.
The corners are reinforced by
doubling up the columns (free-standing columns in front of the normal engaged
columns) Above this projection, a triangular pediment. I roughed this out “in-place” to get the
proportions right, then copy-pasted the geometry (while in Edit mode) to an external
family template. This gives me a stable
object to place multiple times, plus an easier environment in which to tweak
the mouldings and add further detail.
The large arched recesses alternate
with smaller niches which use a revolve for the void cut instead of the
extrusion. Later I will add keystones
and other small embellishments to complete the effect.
Taylor's wall was removed by Soane,
late on in his career, finally imposing his style on the entire perimeter of
the Bank. In its turn, Soane's wall was completely rebuilt by Baker but with many
similarities. One of my first puzzles
when I started on Project Soane more than 5 years ago was to try to understand the
differences between the current screen wall, which I had photographed in some
detail, and Soane’s phased work, for which there were a number of drawings,
some of them conflicting, and no clear indication of what was actually
built. To complicate the issue, the
photographs that exist date from at least 50 years after Soane’s death by which
time the parapet had been butchered, railings added, plus who knows what Many
layers of dirt and grime to be sure.
I digress. I have a file called “row planting” that
dates back to 2013 or so. Combining the
Planting category hack for scaling with linear arrays to do things like egg
& dart or modillions, but also balustrades.
Do I dipped into this to create a wall-hosted family with variable length
panels. Another quick fix with unlimited
future potential. Modular once more, in
that you can swap out different balusters at will, scale up the height as
needed, vary the spacing. By accident I
had the link for Soane’s entrance block loaded on top of Sampson’s
version. Makes for an interesting comparison. This building has changed so many times over
the years. Fascinating story. I’ve been learning something new almost every
weekend for more than 5 years now.
Linked In again
“Progress on Taylor's screen wall.
Wall-hosted balustrade with parameter driven lengths/number of balusters.
Smaller niches to alternate with the large arched recesses. By happy accident, Soane's
remodeling of the entrance block superimposed (in blue) over Sampson's
OK, so I had two L-shaped screen walls to contain Taylor’s
two wings along Threadneedle Street, which was fine for a first order of approximation. But in reality the return leg on the West side
needed to be slightly longer than the East side along Bartholomew Way.
Also, while the first extension called for a separate
Entrance to the Transfer Halls (to help separate the speculative trading
activities from the sober atmosphere of the Pay Hall and the Bank of England proper)
The Garden Court needed to be a more secluded zone, similar to the private
garden that the Director’s Parlours had overlooked when they rented the Grocer’s
I separated out the return legs, and ultimately had three
links. Two instances of the front
portion (A). One on the East, then a
mirrored copy on the West. The East wall
with its central doorway becomes a separate linked file (B). A modified copy of this becomes the West side,
down Princes Street (C). It seems that
Taylor gave this wall a simpler treatment, Princes Street being more of a
backwater perhaps, but mainly because this is not an entrance façade.
So I now have the exterior of the Bank quite well developed,
as it was when Soane arrived on the scene.
We already had this area as it was when he retired as part of the work I
did for the Project Soane competition (and beyond). The next big “missing piece” will be the
Transfer Halls, as built by Taylor. These
can then swap out with the Soane versions of those spaces as we continue to
build up our timeline.
The next post will be about the timeline itself. i.e further
development of the schematic model I have been using to understand the way the
building evolved, which is quite complex.
But for now let’s just enjoy the main frontage as created by the first two
architects (Sampson & Taylor) over a 50 year period