Some days in Oxford feel like I'm overscheduling myself to the brink. Today was one of those.
This morning I was off to London for an architecture class field trip to the Soane Museum, the rather eccentric home of preeminent 19th century British architect John Soane. In describing this building, let me emphatically repeat myself: eccentric beyond belief. Photography wasn't allowed inside, so I only have this lone shot of the exterior, but in any case I don't think pictures could capture the quirky feel of the entire building. John Soane was a man who lived for architectural whimsy, it seems, and who was also captivated by the ideals of his own designs, especially in terms of the romantic and the sublime. His house (actually, three connected London townhouses) is a rabbit warren and mirror-gallery and exhibit-hall of antiques and unique architectural inventions. The ceilings vault and curve, there are unexpected nooks in the corners, walls give way to hidden painting displays, and the entire back portion is devoted to a gallery containing ancient stone fragments, contemporary paintings, and a chamber where Soane liked to imagine that a solitary monk lived. Light plays throughout the building in odd ways, shining through colored glass here before creating an intentional sense of gloom there, all striving toward a strangely dramatic and melancholy mood. The oddest part is that the house was this way when Soane lived there over 150 years ago, and has only been preserved for the museum! Probably the strangest house I've been to, by far.