June 18, 2003
Gateshead – new glories and old horrors

Here's a collection of fun photos, taken at night, of the Tyne bridges in Newcastle (including the new Gateshead Millenium Bridge), and the Sage Gateshead, which is a new music centre under construction.

The Millenium Bridge doesn't go in a straight line across the river, it goes in a big curve. This means it takes longer to walk across but it also means that it can simply be lifted up into an arch when tall boats want to go under it. Brilliant.

The Sage Gateshead (an ugly form of words but that seems to be how you speak of this thing) has been designed by Foster and Partners. It has two concert halls, which will, we are assured have excellent accoustics, and a glass outer skin which will afford an excellent view of the Tyne. I believe that both claims will prove to be true.

There are some who hate this sort of thing. Anti-traditional modernity for the sake of it, blah blah. Well my "blah blah" tells you what I think of that kind of talk. I love this stuff.

I haven't seen the Sage Gateshead, but I think it looks very promising. I did take a close look at the (outside of the) Swiss Re Building in London and I love that, and love also what it has done for the London skyline.

Big public architecture is just getting better and better, as enticing now as it was soul destroying a generation ago. I used to live in Newcastle, and the most visually striking thing in Gateshead in those days, judging by the view of it from across the river, was the multi-story carpark from which Michael Caine threw one of his many victims in Get Carter. This particular one was the one to whom Caine said, famously:

"You're a big man, but you're in bad shape. With me it's a full time job, now behave yourself."

My favourite line from that film, however, was when a rather posh architect, observing some Caine induced mayhem, said to his pal, quietly but anxiously, words to the effect: "I've got an awful feeling we're not going to get our fee." Norman Foster he was not.

There's a big new Sainsbury's supermarket rising up behind its wrapping just near where I live, towards Victoria Sation, in Wilton Road. I can't wait to see what that looks like also. I tried googling for an architect's impression but could find nothing. So, wait and see, eh?

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 12:34 AM
Category: ArchitectureMovies