It is invigorating when you encounter design. Not some temporary pavilion grasping at a purpose beyond burnishing its designer or sponsors reputation.
Nor a hip retail cluster in a warehouse conversion, pedalling the same moustache waxing creams and leather satchels as all such districts.
The Crossness Pumping Station, a Victorian sewage plan in east London, is design. Its reopening has been made possible by ordinary people, working hard, for free, for almost 30 years. And its magnificent.
Crossness was built by Joseph Bazalgette for the Metropolitan Board of Works in 1865 to receive effluent from south London, courtesy of his famed sewerage system, and pump it into the Thames.
Externally, it resembles a Victorian town hall, library or museum – a proud municipal statement in the middle of nowhere, proclaiming its vital role in the elimination of filth and disease from the capital.
Systematic additions followed, but its mansard rood and clocktower were removed in the 1930’s and its extravagant campanile-cum-chimney was razed in 1958.
Yet its Romanesque grandeur remains intact, as do the varied corbels on its heavy doorways and serried windows, including one that depicts Bazalgette himself.
Despite its historical garb, Crossness was a supreme example of functional design put to the public good, long before the modernists appropriated such language and accomplishments as their own exclusive domain.