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HeptangleI don’t know much about geometry, but I know what I like.

Nonagons, meh. Decagons: too much. Pengatons? They don’t go far enough. A heptagon, however, is a tangle that I’m very happy to get into.

It’s the heppest of all polygons. It has just the right number of sides to allow mathematics to appear beautiful. When you hold one in your hand – in the guise of a 20 or 50 pence piece – it just feels right. Not overdone or underdone. Not fussily complicated or disappointingly sparse. Just right.

And when you get to see one that’s large enough to walk all the way round… well, you know that something is right.

Go, West!The feast of heptagons inside Hounslow West station is toasted on the outside by something of equal majesty. There are hardly any buildings in London that have these alluring dimensions. There are hardly any in the UK, for that matter. Are seven-sided shapes really considered so unruly and disruptive as to be sent to the back of architectural class? Or told to go and stand down the other end of the corridor – in this instance, almost the very end of the Piccadilly line?

No matter. At least this one exists, and in such fine fettle. The building lets slip discreet pulses of flair in all of its seven directions. In bright sunshine it sparkles. In grey rain it beckons and reassures. And its colours strike at your heart no matter what the climate. This is style and symmetry of a hugely rare but high order.

Race you round the sides. First one back gets to peek through the round(el) window.

Through the round(el) window

Good Manor(s)There’s a bit of sibling rivalry up the western end of the Piccadilly line. I wouldn’t go so far as to describe it as a “who’s biggest” competition, even though I’ve just done so. But there’s definitely some pseudo-grandstanding going on. It’s quite possibly pseudist as well, for when you’ve not one but two tumescences prodding the sky a few streets apart in the same London borough, it’s tape measures at dawn.

I can’t find details of just how tall the tower at Boston Manor stands in comparison to its brother down the road at Osterley. Judging purely by photos, Osterley edges it. But that’s largely because of the pole that sits on top of the spike that sits on top of the tower. It’s absolutely shameless. Though if you’re going for elevation as well as style, there’s no point in going off half-cock.

Boston stumpBoth stations were designed by Stanley Heaps from briefings by Charles Holden.

How fortuitous for a lazy blogger that two of the greatest architects to have worked on the Underground had such pun-friendly surnames. But you won’t find me beholden to heaping such linguistic fancies into what is already an over-ripe textual stew. Their efforts, as always, speak for themselves – or rather, sing for themselves, because Boston Manor is what happens when buildings croon.

The music you can hear is that of the 1930s: of soft, sad ballads; of frantic shape-throwing and frugging; of get-us-away-from-here toe-tappers; and of stoical, cheek-to-cheek farewells.

Boston Manor at night was used for one of the images for the Royal Mail’s set of commemorative stamps marking the Underground’s 150th anniversary. It was a superb choice, but not just for the station’s enchanting design and sophisticated character. This is architecture that radiates a mood as well as a movement; one of weary arrivals, of buoyant departures, of lonely vigils and late-night thoughts.

And yes, it does all those things even in brilliant sunshine.

Anyone up for a tea party?

That's the story of, that's the glory of love

Toppermost of the Popper OstAh, if only this really were the top of a London Underground skyscraper, its summit boasting restaurants, swimming pools, viewing platforms and the entrance to a giant chute down which you could slide all the way to the station entrance.

It’s still utterly spectacular, despite possessing none of these things and being the width merely of a mildly stout man.

In fact, I’m not sure you can get inside it at all. I suspect it is entirely filled with concrete. But no matter, for it caps what is an extraordinary tower of beauty sitting in a location of brow-furrowing ordinariness.

Os-ter-ley, ha ha ha ha ha hThe tower’s practical job seems to be as a landmark to help people approaching from a distance. Its job as a piece of architecture is more subjective, and probably rests on your view of European design of the 1930s. That, and whether you find a massive pile of bricks and concrete appealing. Which they are, obviously.

The station was the work of Stanley Heaps, following the style developed by Charles Holden up at the other end of the Piccadilly line. It’s a gloriously imaginative, chic and daring prong of modernism. From a certain height, and in a certain era, it resembles a huge electrical jack or futuristic transmitter, the kind up which diabolical masterminds would send messages to testicle-shaped aliens, and from which monsters and maidens would dangle.

At night those panels on the side of the concrete obelisk light up, making it look even more other-worldly – yet still attractive, even alluring. It’s such a simple idea: build a great big tower then make it even higher. But it’s one that also manages to sum up the combined, intricate appeal of the Underground: its impulsive ambition, its stylish audacity, its pride in being noticed, its joy in being admired.

Not bad for a poke in the sky.

A poke in the sky