Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Oxo Tower, London

On a recent trip to London I went on a boat tour of the Thames. The guide pointed out lots of significant landmarks, but one I found particularly interesting was the Oxo Tower on the river's
south bank.

This building was originally constructed in the late 19th Century as a power station for the Post Office, but was subsequently acquired by the Liebig Extract of Meat Company, makers of Oxo beef stock cubes. The building was heavily modified in an Art Deco fashion by the company architect, and the plan was to build a tower that would be festooned with advertisements and the company logo. However, planning regulations were pretty restrictive, and Oxo was refused permission. As a result of this, a tower was built with four sets of three vertically-aligned windows, which just happened to spell out the company's name.

As you can see, it looks pretty stylish even now and is a clear advertisement for Oxo stock cubes without breaking any rules. It's a great example of good design's capability to get around a problem. I think the methodology actually adds to it; placing big billboard advertisements showing the logo and product were getting pretty old even then, and the subtlety of this makes it look pretty unique.

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