a life in architecture michael palin
Globe-trotting writer and actor Michael Palin has selected three buildings that he finds particularly impressive. The first is on home ground - King's Cross Station in London. 'I think it's very strong and simple, a lovely uncluttered building which does exactly what it has to do; and I think the fact that people were constructing really modern buildings like that in the 1850s is remarkable. It seems to me to have much more freshness than St Pancras next door, which is a pastiche. King's Cross is just fresh and clear.' He hopes that one day they will remove 'that awful modern canopy that's been added to the front'.
Another favourite is the Palazzo della Ragione in Padua: 'unforgettable because of its sheer size and scale and its huge interior chamber, the salone, which is 80m long,27m wide and 27m high - a breathtaking room. Again, it's an old building with enormous power, like a great upturned galleon. You'd think a building of that size would be top heavy and out of balance but it has arcades around the base where you can sit and have coffee.' For Palin the Palazzo has everything: size, dignity and intimacy.
He saw his third choice for the first time in 1999: the Yale Centre for British Art (above) in New Haven, Connecticut, designed by Louis Kahn. He admires its undiluted modernity and the fact that 'somehow the interior conjures up all the aspects of an English country house. I think it's a very intelligent and intellectually pleasing building.'