Friday, 28 January 2011

Marqueen Towers, 612-618 Streatham High Road, London SW16

This great little building has perhaps been a bit under-appreciated over the years - but it's qualities still shine through.

If this was Notting Hill the Towers might be returned to their former glory and sold off as super-chic apartments (or should I say 'flats'), but on this interesting but not too recherche bit of the A23 the future is less likely to be golden...

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Luxury Flats

Andrew Graham-Dixon referred in his recently aired documentary on John Constable to some flats, newly created inside one of Constable's former homes, as 'luxury flats' and, while they looked very nice and all, it did strike me that they weren't really that luxurious...I mean they might of had a bit of marble in the bathrooms but helipads or infinity pools, no.

And it wasn't hyperbole of course - AGD wasn't trying to flog them to us - so why not just say 'flats'?

Super Mario Galaxy

Partly as a filler post and partly as relief from the continuing onslaught of brick and concrete I just want to say that I think the 3D aspect of Nintendo's Super Mario games actually detracts from the playability.

Why? makes Mario sufficiently difficult to control (relative to a 2D Mario) that a 'forgiveness factor' - ie: how many mistakes you can make before you get punished - becomes necessary and in-built...which makes for a less satisfying experience than in the 2D world where cause and effect is always predictable (unless it's a crappy game) and if you win you feel you did it by yourself rather than having muddled your way through on a wing and a prayer with a bit of help from the programmers.

Or it could just be that I haven't quite mastered the controls.

Croydon B Power Station Chimneys, Valley Park, Purley Way, Croydon

I didn't go to look at these chimneys, I went to look at an Ikea kitchen - obviously - but they're impressive and there's an interesting piece involving them on the SuperCroydon blog which made me wonder whether the terminally imminent redevelopment of Battersea Power Station might follow a similar course (ie; the shelving of an ambitious renovation project in favour of some major demoltion).

Architect Robert Atkinson's usual metier was Art Deco but the lower portions of the chimneys are strikingly medieval and martial, even the broken off girders seem to fit this image.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

GW Mills & Associates

The other building mentioned in the Observer article by the same architects as Keybridge House gets a savaging on the 'Exeter Memories' website.

To me it looks a perfectly okay bit of modernism, not thrilling but tidy enough.  Looking at Memories' photos I assume siting is probably just as much an issue to them as the style.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Keybridge House, South Lambeth Road, London SW8

So here we are.  Run to ground at last.  British Telecom's Keybridge House.  An interesting Observer article from 2007 rightly chastizes BT for not looking after the building but wrongly catorgorises it as an eyesore.  That Julia Barfield says much the same thing is a depressing surprise.

Now, while I know the building really needs a clean up (think how beautiful all that stainless steel will look shining brightly in the occasional sunlight), this doesn't for a minute mean that it isn't a powerful and impressive piece of architecture in its current state - which I hope comes across in the photos despite the greyness of the day.

The Observer piece helpfully labels KH as Brutalist, something that didn't immediately occur to me although it could be read this way in some important aspects (compare the image below with the Mendes da Rocha block shown in this previous post).  I think a broadening of the term might be in order though as the tower itself also has aspects of many straight down the line commercial office buildings of the time.  Does that make all high-rise commercial buildings in an urban setting part-Brutalist??

Sunday, 2 January 2011

You Are the Quarry #2

A little New Year brain teaser.  Two neighbouring river-fronting apartment buildings below. Which is 'Po-Mo'. 'A' or 'B'?


At the Vauxhall end of the Nine Elms Lane stands Market Towers which is a crisply executed commercial building dating possibly from the same period as the Flower Market (seen in the foreground) and which looks like a perfect piece of downtown Houston, Texas.

A few years later (although not that many) someone spent good money rusticating the lower five meters of the building and jazzing up the entrance with an atrium.

Just round the corner from here at 95 Wandsworth Road there's a lovely curvey understated beige building which maybe took it's cues from Willis Faber Dumas.