Yale student Kate McMillan took part in the RIBA-led exploration of a Victorian masterpiece of architecture and engineering. Read her account of the workshop…
Here in London, great architecture is all around us. All you have to do is walk outside, and you might find a Gothic arch, Neoclassical column, or Victorian window staring down from one of the many notable buildings, or perhaps nestled more discreetly on the façade of a lesser-known home or shop. Last Saturday, 8 June, members of the public were invited to dig deeper into one of London’s great structures – St. Pancras station – through a hands-on workshop exploring its history and design.
At the RIBA
Participants stepped into the Education Room of 66 Portland Place to discover a wide assortment of periodicals, books and drawings from the RIBA’s collections waiting for them. Some of the books were so old that they were surprised when workshop leader Viyki Turnbull heartily encouraged them to “Touch! Touch!” Through a close-up investigation of these original 19th-century documents, participants were given a chance to see St. Pancras station in the context in which it was made.
Before heading off to St. Pancras station, participants experimented with drawing tricks and techniques to create the variety of forms that would be seen at the station, including arches, circles, and floors in perspective. From the looks of the work produced, they got the hang of it pretty fast!
At St Pancras station
With the exception of a little breeze, the London weather was its typical self – clear sky, radiating sun, perfect temperature (okay, maybe not so typical) – participants headed outside for a spectacular view of the station’s exterior. With over an hour of explorations with the RIBA’s collections under their belts, participants needed little instruction before they were on their way with their own observational drawings.
When 4.30pm rolled along, it was incredible to see what had been created in so little time. While there were differences in the scope and style of the drawings – some participants focused on detailed close-up arches, while others tackled sketches of the entire façade – all of the pieces had in common the care to the composition as a whole. Everyone enjoyed sharing their work and seeing what each other had captured – it was clear that everyone had produced something of value and had fun doing it. Take a look – what do you think?
By Kate McMillan
The next workshop, Explore & Draw: Sky-walks & Slab blocks, will take place on Saturday 13 July 2013. Booking essential.