Monday, 28 November 2011

Friday, 25 November 2011

Gay Paris

Yes, back beside the Seine again last weekend, sun a-shining and have no idea what these really are but ain't they grand?
Have some characteristics of Victorian social housing but maybe its a bit too fancy for that.  It's close to the Gare du Lyon.
Had the strange experience of staying two nights in a building (Novotel Gare Du Lyon) which I half liked and half didn't. It seemed torn between two decades (no prizes for guessing the decade I was interested in) although all in all it was well executed, vigerous and all that....

actually it's not bad is it?
nice tiles

Penwith Manor, Kennington, London SE11


And side.


I posted a month or so ago about how much I was enjoying Lana Del Rey's Video Games but what I didn't say was that the damn song then went on permanent repeat in my brain for at least two weeks, and I still catch myself humming it now.

So what is it with these earworms?  I don't remember ever having this problem for the years and years I've been listening to pop music, so why now? 

Same thing happened with Fame Monster. Any thoughts?

Clapham High Road, London SW4

Look at this little chap!

Thinking about galv finish for new windows at our place...

Wandsworth, London SW17

Most planning authorities would have a problem with this building in this context if you wanted to build it today.

Fortunately it has already been built, and I for one am glad to see something staying within the spirit of the context whilst still keeping its chin up.

Some london planning authorities have lists for such occurences which they call 'eyesores'. Of which more later...
maybe the tarp could go though....

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Clapham South Tube Station

Not the correct title for the whole building but with my copy of Woodward & Jones being buried in storage until our building works are done 'tis the best I can do for now.

I never used to think anything of it but it's really a grower...with something sawn-off and flinty about the facades

The windows are of course original that their original colour?  Is it good or bad??

Monday, 17 October 2011

Po-Mo at the V&A

Fortunately set my predjudices aside and went to the Po-Mo retrospective on Sunday and though it hasn't brought me any closer to the movement's architectural side, the thrill of anti-modernist liberation certainly came over, along with the vitality and creativity across the various fields of activity.

Worlds End Estate

During the recent  Open House Weekend I joined a tour of the Worlds End Estate in Chelsea, guided by some of the residents.  Here's the handout we were given, hopefully legible but you'll have to click...

Surprisingly we were told that the estate is a good money maker for the local council despite a quarter or so of the tenants not paying full (or any) rent.

 view of central courtyard which, garden and all, is built above the carpark which may explain the leaning trees?
 'Street in the sky' with council issue replacement front door (should note here that the council issue replacement windows are a lot more sympathetic than the more usual UPVC type)
 The original front door type - were painted different colours when first installed a la Unite' in Marseille
 Lil' benchy, for the old folk.

The fact that these 17 storey brick towers are not infact of loadbearing masonry despite their brick facings should bother the modernist in me, but doesn't, for some reason. The modernist in me has, however, been arguing the case for 'structural honesty' at the Archinect site, which you can see and join with here should you be so inclined.

Haven't got to the V&A's Po-Mo retrospective yet and in truth feel like I should but don't necessarily want to as I don't expect it will touch on the area of historicism that I go not the brash plasticky southern stuff but the weighty somber northern stuff... a la William Whitfield, Sampson House or St Columba Presbyterian Church of Scotland - being the other site visited on Open House day...
 Complete circa 1955 this was not what you might have called the cutting edge of the avant garde, but having said that I do think stripped gothic rocks pretty damned hard.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Video Games

Like millions of others I'm very much enjoying Lana Del Rey's 'Video Games' but have to ask - is it really possible to whistle someone's name??

On the subject of gaming...finally completed Mario Galaxy II, having committed to it more hours than I could in good concience graph against those spent with my family, helping the poor or on my continuing professional development...however it helped me de-stress and now it's done I'm turning to Angry Birds as succor for the insomnia.

I think my previous post on Mario is in every conceivable way backed up by the success of Angry Birds which I attribute to the absolute predicability of the modelled world, gravity, velocity etc vs the fuzziness of the - admittedly virtuosic - Mario.

Thursday, 18 August 2011


Seems like an appropriate quote in the context but a bit long for a strapline...

"see if it looks as if it had been built by strong men; if it has the sort of roughness, and largeness, and nonchalance, mixed in places with the exquisite tenderness which seems always to be the sign-manual of the broad vision, and the massy power of men who can see past the work they are doing, and betray here and there something like disdain for it. If the building has this character, it is much already in its favour; it will go hard but it proves a noble one"

John Ruskin, "the nature of gothic" in "stones of venice", 1851-1853 (cut and pasted this from Seier+Seier's Flickr site which is well worth visiting).

Here's another which most architects would probably accept as their epitaph...

'I tried to draw a few simple lines on the sky; and now my will has to support a whole world up there, before I can do it.'

'The Spire', William Golding

Thursday, 4 August 2011

The London Eye, Lambeth. Completed 1999/2000.

I'm probably being a snob about this considering how misty eyed I get thinking about the Eiffel Tower but, much as I admire it's execution, I'm not terribly fond of its presence.
Wikipedia tells me it was the highest observation wheel in the world when built, subsequently to be surpassed by this
'The Star of Nanchang'
Which itself was then deuced by....
'The Singapore Flyer'

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

The Coral Reef. Mike Nelson at Tate Britain, London.

My only criticism of this stellar installation is that the title (and the discourse around it) seems somehow off target.

New Court, City of London, UK - OMA 2011

I've added that 'UK' to the title above as I note about 50% of the people reading this blog are not based in the UK, although you probably guessed by now that I wasn't talking about City of London, USA, right?

Rem Koolhaas's new HQ for Rothchild's investment bank is, I think - cool - but in a refreshing, dive into a crystal spring kind of way, rather than an aloofly yawning kind of way.

If you look at the OMA web page for the project it looks a bit like a different building and I think it's really more tightly wedged-in amongst the existing buildings than their images imply - although I may have missed a key angle.
Actually I did get one of the building's signature 'box on top'.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

In a world of ones and zeros, are you a zero or...The One?

Rogers Stirk & Harbour's 'Neo' on Bankside, central London.

Here's a picture of the Millenium Dome, by Richard Rogers when his firm was still the Richard Rogers Partnership. The best building never to have had a good word said for it?

Wednesday, 27 July 2011


Slenderness is the holy grail of the tall building and here in London we are, it seems, destined to never achieve any.

Conventional wisdom lays the blame for this partly at the mouldering door of old St Paul's Cathedral which, from beyond the pre-industrial grave, restricts development of quite large areas of the City so that we can continue to get a good view of the big church.

The fact that it was itself the tallest building in town until 1962 (if Wikipedia is to be believed) says a lot about Londoners' enthusiasm for building high, and the tall buildings we do have tend to be disappointingly squat. Even the new giants (Shard and Heron Tower as well as the still-to-be-built Pinnacle) are not truly slender when compared, for example, with the paradimatic World Trade Centre.

Or, to bring ourselves up to date, the magnificent International Commerce Centre in Hong Kong:
We do of course have the wonderful Barbican towers which look slender from a lot of angles....
I'd never really thought how aptly named the Barbican is and how well the martial, medieval association suits Brutalism generally.  In their relative isolation on the skyline the three towers are somewhat sentinel like.
The Natwest Tower also has it going on...
A Richard Seifert building properly known as Tower 42 completed in 1980.
Centre Point, also by Seifert which looks pretty slender from one angle only.

Being brave and selfless folk, architects have come up with ingenious ways to make a squattie look more slender...the Euston Tower for example disguises it's big fat footprint by presenting as a series of conjoined slimmies.

 Cesar Pelli could only facet the corners of the irretrievably stocky One Canada Square:
At 235m it is tall.  Just doesn't look it.  To the right is Foster's 8 Canada Square.
10 Upper Bank Street (by KPF, architects of ICC in Hong Kong) is really a fat tomb-stone but looks nice and skinny from the side.

And saving the tallest (completed building) until last:

The Heron Tower, completed 2011, 242m high, architect Kohn Pederson Fox (again).