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Category archive: Roof clutter

Friday August 04 2017

Today, GodDaughter 2 and I went to the top of the Shard.  I took many photos, and I will now show you one of these.  It will be first one of the many that I took that I consider worthy to be shown to you.  Then I will go to bed, and I expect to sleep very well.

So, here we go.  What have we got?  Usually I am disappointed when I first look at one of these huge clutches of photos as soon as I get home, because I still remember what I was trying for.  Let’s hope looking at these photos now doesn’t depress me too much in this way.

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Well, I ended up looking at all of them, and I am now rather depressed, mainly by the shininess of the windows through which I was photoing, and hence the many unwanted reflections from them in my photos.  The above photo, of Southwark Cathedral and surrounding things, was rather better than most, in this melancholy respect.  Normally I like reflections, but not today.

I actually promise nothing, but it is overwhelmingly likely that more photos from today will follow here.

Goodnight.

Wednesday July 05 2017

The best thing about seeing Turandot at the R(oyal) O(pera) H(ouse) earlier in the week was definitely seeing Turandot.  But almost as good was what I saw during one of the intervals.

So, do you remember this?

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The “this” I am referring to is the disembodied rectangular box hovering up near the roof there.  I copied and pasted the sanskrit my blogging system demands for that photo from this earlier ROH posting.  To quote my earlier description in that earlier posting:

I especially like that disembodied clutch of drinkers, suspended up there as if in mid air, but actually in mid mirror.

All of which means that you don’t need to remember it, because I just told you again.

Well, during the interval in question, I found myself stretching my legs inside this aerial box.  From it, I got views like this:

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Which was all very fine, although I can’t really tell how good or bad this photo is, because I only have this terrible little replacement screen to look at it on.

But then, things got even more interesting.  I looked through that big semi-circular window, and saw other interesting things.  In particular I saw this:

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That is one of London’s finer assemblages of roof clutter, made all the more magnificent by being anarchically perched, like a tiny shanty town, upon one of London biggest and blandest and most geometrically severe pieces of sculpted Big Thingness from the Concrete Monstrosity era.  Namely: One Kemble Street, which used to be known by the much cooler name of Space House.

If you image google for One Kemble Street, you get a deluge of photos of One Kemble Street, but just about all of them are taken from below.  It’s like they’re ashamed of that marvellous roof clutter.  But why?  It is magnificent.

Here is another view of part of this roof clutter:

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That was taken in December 2014, on the same day I photoed the floating bar in the sky, in the first photo, above.

Memo to self: check it out again, and try to photo the whole thing, in nice weather like that.

Saturday June 17 2017

I just did a posting at Samizdata about the flypast over London today, that went with the Trooping of the Colour.  That I photoed from my roof, insofar as I saw it.

I stuck up a lot of Samizdata-friendly photos there, but my favourite flypast photo was this, of a couple of planes seen through some foreground roof clutter:

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You may say: not very remarkable.  But I say: this is not the kind of thing I usually see from my roof when I go up there with my camera.  For me, this is remarkable.

Saturday May 20 2017

Around five years ago, the dominant architectural story of London was all the Big Things that had recently been erected, starting with ther Gherkin, continuing with the Shard and the Walkie Talkie.  There are few more Big Things about to arrive in The City, but the bigger story now is the much more numerous, rather less big things.  less big things like these: 

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As you can see from the cranes, lit up by early evening sun against that cloudy sky (an effect of which I have always been fond), some of these particular Less Big Things are still being completed.  They are on the far (i.e. south) side of the River from me.  Behind them are the railway approaches into and out of Waterloo.

Call it the Benidorming of London.  By this I do not mean that London will become entirely Benidorm, merely that this is the way the architectural wind happens to be blowing just now.  Soon, another wind will blow, and people will be grumbling about that, and maybe even lamenting the end of the Benidorm phase.

Photo taken from the roof of my home, earlier this month.

LATER: To provide some context, here is another photo, photoed moments later, from the same spot, which tells you both more about where these Less Big Things are, and where I was doing the photoing from:

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On the left, the Millbank Tower (with its glorious roof clutter cluster).  The Millbank Tower is a truly Big Thing.  As you can tell, from the fact that it has a name, and that, if you are yourself a Londoner, you have almost certainly heard of it.

Tuesday May 16 2017

This looks like an everyday urban scene, towards the end of a rather gloomy and cloudy day, with nothing much of any great interest to see:

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But observe that cluster of chimneys, to the right of and a bit higher than the bus stop sign.

I’m talking about this:

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I’ve lived a walk away from this delightful urban sculpture for about a third of a century, but I never noticed it, until today.

I’ll bet you anything there was a time when most people thought that the plague of chimney potted brick buildings that was marching relentlessly across London was the quintessence of ugliness, the way people think traffic jams are ugly now.  But now that such chimneys are no longer being built, but are instead merely being destroyed from time to time, we can relax and enjoy them.  And in about fifty years time, when the traffic jams start to retreat, people will realise that they look rather cute also.

Thursday May 11 2017

GodDaughter 2 and I meet up every so often, so I can be brought up to speed on her progress as a classical singer.  The last two times we’ve met, we’ve visited posh shops.  She likes viewing their contents.  I just like photoing whatever amusing things happen to present themselves to me, including, sometimes, the contents of the posh shops.

Here are some of the photos I took on the most recent wander around that we did (just after I took the photo in the previous posting).  These photos all having been taken in the Burlington Arcade:

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1.1 is the view everyone thinks of, if they think of anything at all, when they think of the Burlington Arcade.  1.2 is the rather elaborate floor, which I rather like.  Then things liven up a bit.  2.1 is someone who managed to look ultra-posh, even when seated in a wheelchair.  2.2 … well, you can see why I would like a posh box for putting posh things into, with decoration on its lid like that.

But then, my eye wandered a little, and I noticed that although we were in the Burlington Arcade, there was still – wonder of wonders - roof clutter to be seen, through the windows above us.  I hoovered up roof clutter views, and here are a few of those:

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The more I wander around London, the more I notice this contrast between the stage, the places where London is trying to look its best and is all primped and permed and made-up, and the behind-the-scenes areas.

Here was a circumstance where, behind a very posh piece of retail scenery, there was still backstage clutter to be seen, just by looking upwards, through the ceiling.

Friday May 05 2017

Summer, proper summer, where sandals and no socks is obvious rather than a hope for the best, is taking an age to get here.  So here are some snaps from an earlier summer:

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I just picked out nine that I liked, nine because it makes for a good show here.  I didn’t think.  I just looked and waited for when I said to myself: ooh I like that.

Tuesday April 04 2017

I find myself becoming ever more entertained by those cranes at the top of buildings, for cleaning windows.  The ones that look like this:

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Is it a crane?  Is it roof clutter?  It’s both!

The above photo was taken in March.  And then, in April, this month, I took this next photo, because, although not by itself very significant, it really adds to the story being told above:

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I did a bit of cropping on both these, to make them more identical, in all but the essential difference they illustrate.

For you see (which you now do), this particular window cleaning crane has the trick of disappearing into the (very visible) roof of its building like it’s not even there.

One moment: roof clutter, of the most obtrusive sort.  Next thing you know: roof clutter gone.

There is another such window cleaning crane, very near to the above window cleaning crane, in fact just across the road from it, on the big ugly building with the curved roof, from which a window cleaning crane with a curved bit of roof on it occasionally emerges.  And in February, I chanced upon this window cleaning crane in action:

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From form emerges function.  Function functions.  Then function disappears back into form, like nothing had happened.

Monday April 03 2017

This afternoon I checked out London Fields, hoping for views of Big Things.  But the clearest Big Thing views I got from the trip were taken from London Fields Overground Station.  This is because London Fields Overground Station is, to coin a phrase, overground.  It’s at roof level rather than ground level.  London Fields, on the other hand, is a collection of fields, with lots of trees everywhere.

Big Things were to be seen through the beginnings of the summer’s greenery-to-come, but only very dimly:

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Actually, I have to admit that with those trees looking all springy and everything that’s quite a sweet looking photo.  But on the whole, views of Big Things from higher up tend to be more varied and more interesting.  You can include more interesting backgrounds and go looking for interesting alignments.

Whatever.  From London Fields station I also immortalised this excellent clump of roof clutter:

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I took other photos for reminding me of the shape of the building as a whole, and that meant that I and google maps were quickly able to learn that this is the tower in the middle of Pitcairn House.  Follow that link, and you will see that Pitcairn House is two quite big slabs of housing, but because there are two curved roofs over most of it, with only the top of that tower being easy to get to, all the clutter has to be concentrated in that small spot.

Saturday March 18 2017

Indeed:

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Presumably they were selling stuff like this.

I like it when my pictures include clocks, and that clock is a particular favourite of mine.

Friday March 17 2017

My day in Highbury and Islington (and Canonbury) began with me not seeing much in the way of Big Things from Islington Highbury Fields.  But very quickly, I made my way to the north eastern end of New River Walk, and took the walk along it.

The thing is, Google Maps, what with it being so easy to change the scale of, can mislead about how far apart things are.  One Google map shows you a big area, that it will take you a day to explore properly.  But then, following further button pushing, another map, which looks like it is of an equally big area, is actually of a place you can be all over within less than two hours.  So it was last Monday.

Everything that day was smaller and more suburban and contrived and just nice, compared to what I had been expecting and compared to what the more northerly bits of the New River are like, when GodDaughter One and I checked them out, back in 2015.

In particular, the New River Walk turned out to be a piece of miniature canal that has been turned into a tiny, elongated version of Hyde Park, thanks to some lottery money that was bestowed upon it in the nineties, complete with fountains, and ducks, and carefully manicured footpaths, and views of nearby affluent houses and apartments, thus:

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It’s the sort of place I am happy to have visited just the once, to check out what it is.  But it isn’t really my kind of place.

But, this is Friday, and there were ducks.  And dogs.  Quite a lot of dogs actually.  Also lots of signs saying don’t let the dogs do dog do, or if the dogs do do dog do, then do tidy it up.

Thursday March 09 2017

This afternoon I was in the vicinity of Angel Tube Station, and after my socialising was concluded I took a walk along the Regency Canal, starting at the eastern end of the Islington Canal Tunnel, and proceeding east, until it got dark.

I refer confidently to the Islington Canal Tunnel, but in truth I only today became aware of its existence.

Another thing I only became aware of today was this tower:

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This is Chronicle Tower, as I later discovered after much googling.  Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, who have been in business for many decades now.  I remember them from my days as a (failed) architecture student.

Almost all of the pictures of Chronicle Tower on the internet that I found are from the other side.  But I find that roof very diverting.  On the right is my close-up of it, tilted to fit into a vertical rectangle, thereby enabling me to fit more detail in.  I must say, I am impressed by my camera’s ability to record detail, in fading light, at something near to its maximum zoom.

There’s no doubt about it.  Architects are now taking steadily more interest in “designing” the tops of buildings.  Soon the days of flat roofs and random clutter, for all the world to see and enjoy, if it’s far enough away to see the roof, may soon be gone.

I particularly like the way we can see the window-cleaning crane there.

LATER: It’s not like me to miss this, but ... Dezeen reported yesterday on this same building.  Their report includes a better version of my left-hand picture.

Quote:

The tower designed for property developers Mount Anvil and Clarion Housing includes 300 apartments – of which 35 per cent are considered affordable – and a five-story, 405-square-meter penthouse with 360-degree views from all levels.

So, that would mean that 65 percent of the apartments are considered unaffordable.

Monday February 27 2017

I find sunset hard to photo interestingly.  Towers, I find easier to photo interestingly.  (Or maybe I just find sunsets uninteresting and towers interesting.) So, when I photo a sunset, I try to include a tower.

Here are two sunset-with-tower photos.  On the left, the most famous tower of London, the Tower of London, is seen (with a sunset behind it), reflected in a a more recent building.  And on the right, we see the top of the London Hilton Hotel (with a sunset behind it), with my camera pointing along Oxford Street towards the west.  Well, it would have to be the west, wouldn’t it?:

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Photoed in January and February of this year.  Click to make these photos bigger, if you want to.  But I think sunset photos often look better when smaller.  Certainly the Tower of London looks much clearly like the Tower of London, when small.  I also like how the two sky colours look right next to each other.

Also, and not changing the subject at all: what he said.

Thursday January 26 2017

Recently, I have been posting (for example here and here and there) photos that I took quite a while back, of scenes that are now different or in some way ephemeral, that fact often being noted in the postings themselves.

Here is another such:

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This photo, taken in November 2003, is ephemeral in two ways.

First, there are men at work on the top of the Gherkin there.  The photo is not technically that good, if only because the camera wasn’t that good, and neither was the light on that particular day.  But, click to get it twice as big, and you will surely agree that men is definitely what we do see there.  Never before that day had I seen men at work on the top of the Gherkin, unless you count before it was finished (buildings still being built being another rich source of ephemera), and never have I seen this since that day.  It may be that these guys were in fact finishing the Gherkin, in some way that I don’t know about.  Whatever, there they are.

And the second ephemeral thing about this photo is that it dates from the time when the Gherkin stood in something approximating to splendid isolation.  The same shot taken from the same spot today (outside Liverpool Street Station) would surely contain a Cheesegrater at the very least, and probably several other Big Things.

Friday January 13 2017

Sport yet again.  And yes, I’ve still got plenty to tell you, in January, about one of my favourite days out last year, which was on November 28th, which I have already written about five times already.  There was the shining moment described in this, and the three earlier moments linked to from there.  And there was this next shining moment.  And now there is the Spurs Shop, which looks like this:

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Not very exciting, I think you will agree.  But the stuff inside, the sort of stuff I have never ever seen before gathered together in one place, was, for me anyway, a remarkable sight:

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So, what do we see there?

1.1: is a cardboard model of the old Spurs stadium, the one they are about to trash and replace, yours for £30, but you have to construct it.

1.2: Spurs clothes.  Lots of Spurs clothes.  Plus big Spurs slogans.

1.3: Spurs cards to tell your associates that this is your room.  Really.  Very blurry.  Only realised that this was what they were just now.

1.4: Spurs mugs.  It says everything about the state of the Premier League that I looked at this photo, and read Kane as “Car Nay”, like he’s from Africa.  Alli, like Kane, also plays for England.

2.1: More Spurs mugs, this time with the tasteless cartoon cock, rather than the tasteful and elegant proper one.  AIA is an Asian insurance company.

2.2: Spurs clocks.

2.3: Spurs wall stickers and, click and look on the right, Spurs flags.

2.4: Spurs luxury rugs.  (And more Spurs clothes.)

3.1: Spurs luggage tags.  And I don’t know what those yellow striped things on the right are, if you click on that.  Some kind of Spurs bags, I think,

3.2: Spurs 5M retractable dog leads and Spurs dog collars.  For actual Spurs supporter dogs, I mean.  Not Spurs-supporter priests.

3.3: Spurs doormats and Spurs thermometers.  Like a lot of the stuff in these pictures, I only noticed the Spurs thermometers now.

3.4: Spurs tea towels and Spurs trays.

4.1: Spurs fridge magnet pens.

4.2: Spurs jelly babies and Spurs “snowies”.  (Learn more about snowies here.)

4.3: Spurs white teddy bears.

4.4: Spurs flipflops.

5.1: Spurs footballs.  So Spurs supporters actually play this game?

5.2: Spurs scarves.

5.3: Spurs sterling silver earrings.

5.4: Spurs iPhone cases.

Out in the open, there were also Spurs cranes, although there was no price tag on any of them:

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No, not really.  Not Spurs cranes for sale, just Spurs cranes working away on constructing the new Spurs stadium.