The Power of Symmetry

Architecture & Interiors

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The Great Court of the British Museum in London, UK, by Foster and Associates.
In an era in which architecture has made a point of avoiding the calm order of symmetrical forms in favor of an edgier asymmetry– Foster’s Addition to the British Museum seems positively radical.  The glazed roof with delicate grid of structural steel is a feat of structural engineering and a modern take on the stained glass window.  There is a rich contrast between the transparency and lightness of the new canopy and the solidity of the classical stone buildings of the old museum.  The central cylindrical building is both classical in style, yet modern in its minimalism.  The Great Court succeeds as a work of architecture because of the way in which Foster balances contrasting materials, styles, and architectural traditions. The bold symmetry of the Greatt Court is balanced by the shifting grid of shadows that move and stretch across the space as the sun passes overhead.  The space is both static and active at the same time.  A perfect balancing act.

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