Spring 2013: ‘On Visions of Ruin’

Cover of the Spring edition of the SOANE Magazine, with image of Soane's Bank of England in ruins

Soane’s extraordinary futurist vision of his own house as a ruin, being explored and described by an Antiquary, written whilst the house was in that ambiguous ‘is it ruined, is it half-built?’ state during its construction, remains an extraordinary insight into his ideas about his legacy but also about the emotional and expressive significance of ruins.  The theme runs throughout his Museum, from the use of genuine ‘ruins’ from the Palace of Westminster to create the supposed ruins of an abbey in the ‘Monk’s Yard’ to his evocative arrangements of fragments from the great ruined buildings of ancient Rome. 

For this first issue of the magazine we look at the ‘cult of the ruin’ in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with articles by Helen Dorey and Stephen Astley but also at how Soane’s visions of his buildings as future ruins rivalling those of Rome can inspire a leading architect of our own day to look at the future of one of his own buildings. We are extremely grateful to Sir Norman Foster for contributing his piece about 30 St Mary Axe, imagining its distant future. Along the way our peregrination takes us to the great Doric temples of Paestum and the ruins of ancient Greece with Dr Ian Jenkins and with Dr Caroline Shenton to a spectacular ruin which was created before the eyes of Georgian Londoners as the Palace of Westminster burnt one night in 1834.



Crude Hints
Helen Dorey, Acting Director of Sir John Soane’s MuseumImage of the Gherkin showing flats behind the glass frontage

30 St Mary Axe as a Romantic Ruin
Norman Foster, architect

‘There has lately been discovered . . . the remains of a very ancient Temple’
Stephen Astley, Curator of Drawings, Sir John Soane’s Museum

Piranesi, Paestum and Soane
Dr Ian Jenkins, Senior Curator, Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, The British Museum

Sir John Soane and the Day Parliament Burned Down
Caroline Shenton, Director of the Parliamentary Archives

Marking the line: Ceramics and ArchitectureTuner's painting of the Houses of Parliament burning, showing flames rising from across the Thames
Joanna Bird, curator, and Carina Ciscato, ceramicist



News from the Soane
Helen Dorey, Acting Director of Sir John Soane’s Museum

Soane Recommends
Amicia de Moubray

The Gadabout
Magnus Copps



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