By Rowan Moore
Queen Victoria Street, London
Foster and Partners' new Bloomberg HQ boasts beehives, a wellness centre and its very own Roman temple. The City hasn't seen such an ambitious homage to corporate power in decades
What, you might ask, when walking around Bloomberg's new headquarters in the City of London, are these giant cabbage leaves, these water-washed organisms surging from below, these invaders from 1950s sci-fi, doing in the pavement? They're art, is the answer, by Cristina Iglesias. They're there to recall the dark, squelchy side beneath the City's whirr of calculation, layers of past life going back to the Romans, the buried river Walbrook – the Iain Sinclair/Peter Ackroyd version of London as a protean mulch of decay and mystery.
What, you might then ask, have these Hadean intimations got to do with the technological innovation of, say, the light-fittings-cum-microphones in a high-level meeting room elsewhere in the complex, which use techniques derived from stadium sound systems to capture the voices of the high-level attendees, sample the background noise and modify both such that everyone can speak in a normal tone. “Voice lift”, the only slightly creepy technology is called.