Sunday, 26 August 2012

Corporate vandalism on Tower Bridge

Maybe I’ve missed it before, but last night I noticed that Tower Bridge has been vandalised. Looking downriver from Hays Galleria I saw that two company logos, EDF Energy and GE, have been beamed onto its towers.

It prompted a check on Google this morning, and sight of an old press release that the company swung a deal with the mayor and the Corporation of London on a lighting system for the bridge. OK, so it’s no cost to the taxpayer, but it’s still an act of vandalism.

Tower Bridge is an icon, a representation of the fantastic engineering feats of Britain in the 19th century, and a grand, slightly wacko demonstration of the architectural excess that characterised the age. It’s one of the defining images of London, a sight that makes its residents proud and impresses people from around the world. And now it’s been turned into an advertising hoarding.

It’s a step in the corporatisation of public space that desecrates the urban landscape. Any sight can be sucked into a corporate marketing campaign, and subsequently loses that sense that it is something special. When you’re ready to put a price on a public treasure, then you’re ready to cheapen it.

Tower Bridge is still a great sight during the day; but now it’s less impressive than it should be at night.

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