Building a Skyscraper: Crane required

Barcelona, London

What a doddle it must be to erect a modern high-rise building, compared with the difficulties faced by those builders in mediaeval times. Their churches and cathedrals soar dizzyingly heavenwards without benefit of modern scaffolding kits, cranes and mechanical diggers.

It’s the view of Cádiz shown in the featured photo that prompted thoughts like these. The modern industrial hub is visible from the older city centre. Here’s another view:

Cádiz

Let’s go to London, a city so changed from the days when I lived there in the 1950s and 60s. Here’s a gallery of soaring towers, and the cranes that made building them possible. There are even cranes surrounding St. Paul’s Cathedral. And The London Eye makes a useful picture frame for yet another high-rise office.

And here’s new and old, juxtaposed: from Gherkin to Tower of London

Slightly off-topic, I have to include a few shots from the Gasholder development in Kings Cross. From dirty industrial back streets to desirable address in an imaginative few years.

There’s one cathedral still under construction that’s taking even longer to build than its mediaeval antecedents: La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Look.

Did you notice the builder in his hi-viz gear and safety equipment? He’s not the only one who needs to have a head for heights on these modern buildings. Here’s a team of window cleaners in Warsaw:

Tina has invited us, in this week’s Lens-Artists Challenge #173 to choose interesting architecture. I’ve chosen to focus on how the buildings I’ve selected reached such immense heights.

The London skyline seen from Greenwich

58 thoughts on “Building a Skyscraper: Crane required

  1. What an interesting post – it makes you think. I like the London skyline (apart from the cranes) and the mix of old and new, which I didn’t initally think I would like when the very tall modern buildings started going up. I wonder if there will ever be a day when the skyline of any big city does not include those monster cranes? That builder up the Sagrada Familia must have nerves of steel.

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    1. Funnily enough, I quite like the cranes. And like you, I like the modern skyline. When we’re passing the Sagrada Familia, I always spend more time looking at the craftsmen than the building these days!

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  2. I am amazed by your diversity of photographs for this theme. All so interesting in the stories they tell. I recall seeing aspects of the Kings Cross development and wondering who would really want to live there but now it is quite elegant! And the Cadiz skyline, its a long time since we visited but it is a popular destination for some of our Spanish friends.

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  3. I love looking at cranes and tall skylines from a distance – less great though when you are below them on windy streets, and also increasingly dark thanks to the ever growing height of them

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  4. I love the cranes as they have a birdlike quality. And, your delightful contrasting selection of photos just shows that none of London’s glass and steel edifices can hold a candle to the organic charm of the ‘unfinished’ La Sagrada Familia. I think for me London’s most interesting offer is the small gasholder development and not the City’s flashy piles. Even the Gherkin has something lifeless and sterile about it which I think is captured in your shot of it behind the Tower.

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    1. I’m a bit mixed in my reaction to La Sagrada Familia, perhaps because it’s always seen, inside and out through a press of visitors (like me!). But while the individual sky-high buildings in London may not have much soul, I do enjoy the skyline. And the lively and at the same time quiet atmosphere of the Gasholder area.

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  5. Thanks for this crane-driven view of architecture. One of the reasons I like this is that you took a different approach. Thumbs up to La Sagrada! (I loved Barcelona’s architecture) … and your last picture is a fitting ending because of all of the different architectural styles that are present. Well done, Margaret.

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  6. That first photo looks like a scene from a SF movie, Margaret.
    I looked at your photos of La Sagrada Familia and thought you must have been there about the same time as us last century but no, still building! It truly is an amazing building and also amazing that there are people brave enough to try and complete the work.

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  7. I’ve always liked seeing a mix of old and new buildings and I enjoyed your juxtapositions 🙂 I’m a big fan of the Gasholder development and indeed all the developments around Kings Cross. It’s become a great area to go for eating out and people-watching! I love that final shot from Greenwich too – very well-observed 🙂

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  8. Wonderful response to the challenge Margaret. Like many other commenters, I love the cranes and your perspective on those images is wonderful. I also love that you included an urban development project that shows what can happen when urban decay is addressed with the right attention. Finally, loved your perspective on London from afar with the people in the foreground. that’s a marvelous composition.

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  9. Great shots, great post! Plenty to think about as well to look at. I’m always conflicted about the mix of old & new in London, despite recognising that it’s a necessity of progress (and burgeoning populations). I’d rather see a more distinctive ‘old town’ but that’s the romantic in me. And as you show well, every great city has its cranes and is endlessly renewing its architecture. And cleaning its windows 😬 That shot gave me the shivers, back full circle to those medieval cathedral builders. No health and safety regulations for them.

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    1. So window cleaning isn’t for you either? Not that sort anyway. I think the City of London never had a chance of being a distinctive Old Town. We moved to London in the post-blitz days of the early 50s and even as a young child I was shocked by the wasteland that the city was. It’s amazing anything survived, especially the Wren churches. So a modern take was inevitable I think.

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  10. Cities now are beginning to look like those portrayed in 1950’s Sci-fi films! I wonder how many streets never get any sunlight, shaded out by all the high-risers. I don’t see myself ever living in a city. I was interested in your photos coming from the perspective of black and grey! And in the last photo an excellent silhouette. But I see this is for a different challenge so wait in anticipation of what you have for me!

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    1. I’m no longer a city dweller either, but relatively few people live in the City of London – it’s just one massive business district. You’re right. Quite a few of the photos would have worked for your latest challenge.

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  11. I wondered where you were going with this! I do find cranes a depressing sign of our times. Much prefer the winged ones, though they do look a bit like they’re flapping their wings in the first shots.

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