The Festival Wing:
Hayward Gallery and Queen Elizabeth Hall
Walk this way: the building tilts as you look up.
At the Barbican, you are offered yellow lines
but here there is no guidance. Come with me,
we are at the rear of the buildings, climbing the red stair.
Take note: this was constructed as a single piece
the concrete poured into a form, shuttering made
from soft wood, leaving a surface like a fossil trace.
Touch the surface: admire it.
As we step off the staircase, we are not sure
which level we have reached, there is nowhere
for the eye to take purchase. This is deliberate:
the architects wanted you to feel as if this were a cliff
tumbling to the sea - as if you were somewhere
other than the city; as if the seagulls and cormorants
were not inland migrants but at the edge of land
beckoning you outward, elsewhere, beyond the man-made.
Look around you - a City skyline made of glass and steel.
Here materials are drawn from earth: limestone, sand and grit,
still bearing the earth's imprint. As we cross the terrace,
consider the rough aggregate: thousands of chips
set into the wall, gleaming with mica.
If they were diamonds, they would make you gasp.
Come - we are heading toward the Thames, up the yellow stairs
to a garden where you can sit inside a barrier of planted pots.
Relax! This place belongs to us. Embrace it.