This shot of Richmond Riverside, completed in the mid-1980s near London and designed by Quinlan Terry, is on the latest edition of AVOE – A Vision of Europe. It is so lovely that I decided to post it after posting another lovely shot from AVOE of central Beirut.
I visited Richmond Riverside in 1999. Before I left for London, I looked up Richmond Riverside in guidebooks. To my surprise, one of the guides identified the development as having been built in the 19th Century. Actually, I was not surprised but instead overjoyed, because the mistake played into my fascination with new architecture lovely enough to be confused with old architecture.
Professional preservationists will cluck that it undermines the authenticity of genuinely old places when people think new places are old, too. But who cares about “authenticity”? What happens when a new place surprises the public by emerging as lovely as old places is that the whole world becomes slightly more beautiful – the reverse of when a new place is built that looks like we’ve come to expect, with regret, that new places generally look like. That is far more important than a spurious authenticity of interest only to scholars.
I will put that old Journal column on the blog if I can locate it somewhere. Check back later.