Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
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ap on Anton Howes on the idea of (and the unstoppability of) technological innovation
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Most recent entries
- Four towers joined together by two bridges
- Peter Foster on Robert Owen
- Quota Bald Blokes and Big Ben
- Less heat and more light
- Antoine Clarke on herding drunk cats
- Antony Flew on the Terrors of Islam
- Bell end?
- Couple photoing their own shadows
- Standing on boxes to interview Irfan
- What is this iceStone device?
- Filling in a Meaningless Triangle near Kensington High Street tube
- A Morris Minor advertising a ping pong night club
- Going to Kings Cross to see gas holders
- The sexiest statue in London?
- Rain on netting
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Category archive: Computer graphics
Photo taken in 2008 by me, from a train, just past Queenstown Road railway station, on my way from Waterloo to Egham, the railway station of my childhood:
That’s not two towers joined together by a bridge.
This is two towers joined together by a bridge:
Those two towers are going to be built in Copenhagen harbour. They’ve just received the go-ahead. Here’s hoping they do indeed go ahead.
I see that of Counting Cats, in the person of Julie near Chicago, recently linked to a piece by the late Antony Flew entitled The Terrors of Islam, a piece which I had totally forgotten about. But I am sure that this piece influenced me very strongly when I read it. And I definitely did read it because I published it, for the Libertarian Alliance (Chris Tame Tendency).
It always pleases me hugely when someone links to an old LA effort of mine like this. Not exclusively mine, you understand. Somebody else had to write it. But … mine. And this particular piece of Flew’s is downright prophetic.
Counting Cats had a strange outbreak of junk postings about fake university essays a week or two back but seems to be over it now.
Because of the uncannily precise weather forecasts with which modern civilisation is blessed, I know that today will be a great day to be going out, which I have not done for a while. And I intend to check out this, which is a gas holder that has been tarted up into a big old public sculpture stroke small park inside:
There are mirrors. I like mirrors. Mirrors make for fun photos.
Also, notice how, in this other picture, …:
... it would appear that they (Bell Philips) will be inserting a block of flats into another nearby gas holder. Cute.
I’ll let you all know how it is all looking, at the moment. Assuming I manage to find it and it’s not still a building site behind barriers. With these kinds of things, the internet can only tell you so much. By which I mean that it could tell you enough so that you wouldn’t have to go there to check it out, but it generally can’t be bothered. So, since it’s only a short Victoria Line journey, I will go there. To check out not only the Thing itself, but to see what other Things I can see from inside it, framed by it.
Vanity Fair piece about Frank Gehry. Key paragraph:
Things progressed slowly from there, as the architect continued to work more audacious swooping and compound curves into his designs. Eventually he found himself hitting the outer limits of what was buildable. This frustration led Gehry on a search for a way to fulfill his most far-reaching creative desires. “I asked the guys in the office if there was any way they knew of to get where I wanted to go through computers, which I am still illiterate in the use of,” he explains. Gehry’s partner, Jim Glymph - “the office hippie,” in Gehry’s words - led the way, adapting for architecture a program used to design fighter planes. As Gehry began to harness technology, his work started to take on riotous, almost gravity-defying boldness. He dared to take the liberties with form he had always dreamed of, fashioning models out of sensuously pleated cardboard and crushed paper-towel tubes. He always works with models, using scraps of “whatever is lying around” - on one occasion a Perrier bottle. “I move a piece of paper and agonize over it for a week, but in the end it was a matter of getting the stuff built,” he tells me. “The computer is a tool that lets the architect parent the project to the end, because it allows you to make accurate, descriptive, and detailed drawings of complicated forms.”
“Frank still doesn’t know how to use a computer except to throw it at somebody,” ...
I smell a classic two-man team there. Gehry dreams it. And this guy called “Glymph” (ever heard of him? - me neither - I got very little about him by googling) works out how to actually get the damn thing built. To quote myself:
Even when a single creative genius seems to stand in isolated splendour, more often than not it turns out that there was or is a backroom toiler seeing to the money, minding the shop, cleaning up the mess, lining up the required resources, publishing and/or editing what the Great Man has merely written, quietly eliminating the blunders of, or, not infrequently, actually doing the work only fantasised and announced by, the Great Man.
Glymph now seems to be on his own, although you can’t tell from the merely institutional appearances.
In general, the role of the Other Sort of Architect, the one who turns whatever some Genius Gehry figure wants into something buildable, and which will not be a mechanical disaster, seems to be growing and growing.
I found that picture of Gehry’s epoch-making Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao here. The VF piece identifies this as the most “important” building of our time. Architects love it. The public does not hate it.
Indeed. It was front page news yesterday in the Evening Standard. I’m guessing that the way Renzo Piano and Shardeveloper Irving Sellar have been emitting verbiage about how Paddington is now “soulless and has no life” may be what got this story onto the front page:
Images of a 65-storey “skinny Shard” of apartments, offices, restaurants and a roof garden designed by Renzo Piano - the Italian “starchitect” behind western Europe’s tallest building - were unveiled today ahead of a public exhibition.
Irvine Sellar, chairman of Shard developers Sellar Property Group, said although Paddington was one of London’s most important gateways it had been overlooked for decades.
He said: “At the moment you only go to Paddington for two reasons - to catch a train or to see someone in hospital. It is soulless and has no life and yet it is only five minutes from Hyde Park and seven or eight minutes from Marble Arch.
“It is a fantastic location but it is stuck in a Fifties time-warp. We intend to create a place for people to go, where they will want to live, work, eat and shop.”
I imagine many current Paddingtonians actually quite like living in a “Fifties time-warp” that has been “overlooked” by the likes of Piano and Sellar “for decades”.
I of course love the idea of this new Big Thing. I hugely admire Renzo Piano. His new tower and its new surroundings, and in the meantime the process of building it all, will turn Paddington into the kind of place I will want to visit far more often than I do now. And by 2020 there’ll be another London Big Thing for me to observe and photo from afar. So I hope this goes ahead. (Part of the reason for this posting is to remind me to check out that public exhibition that they mention.)
But these guys sure know how to talk about locals in a way calculated to piss them off.
When I photo a scene, I like to get other people’s screens into my pictures:
The weather was grim and grey today, when I took the above snaps, but the paintings were bright!
Painting. Before computers, this was how they did Photoshop.
I’m referring to this:
Click on it to see.
The orange and black bit spoils it rather, and if you only see the top half on your screen, that makes it easier. But I still think it’s fun. It’s dancing, and it has a very big left foot.
Taken in 2007, but some things really don’t change from decade to decade, or even from century to century.
Jade Dernbach’s international career ended last year, amidst much derision and recrimination.
Surrey very nearly won today’s ODI Final against Gloucester. If Surrey had won, everyone would now be talking about how well Dernbach has done for Surrey this year. As it was, Surrey, having been ahead of the game all day long, instead lost three tail end wickets in a heap at the end and lost by six runs.
Had Surrey won, Dernbach would have been Man of the Match, having taken six wickets, including a hat trick at the end of the Gloucester innings and even better, at the beginning of the Gloucester innings, the prize wicket of Michael Klinger for a three ball duck in the first over of the game.
As regulars here will know, I was at the semi-final at the Oval that got Surrey to today’s final. (It was probably my day of the year so far.) Dernbach did well in that game also.
Sangakkara hit 19 runs off Surrey’s penultimate over of batting. Notts, needing 19 to win in their last 2 overs, could only manage 5 and a wicket off their penultimate over, bowled by Dernbach. The wicket was Notts captain Chris Read, bamboozled by Dernbach’s disguised slow ball. Read is the kind of batsman who could have got Notts home with balls to spare, but Dernbach did him. Those two penultimate overs were the difference between the two teams that day.
As for me, I photoed the first of these two penultimacies:
But when I should have been photoing the equivalent scoreboard description of the second penultimacy (you can read about it by scrolling down here), I was instead busy taking this photo:
Which just goes to show that photoing cricket matches, like photoing anything else, is a skill. Everything you have to do - which actually means everything you have to remember to do - at the right time and in the right order - is easy and obvious, just commonsense really. But, doing seventy three bits of commonsense at the exact right time and in the exact right order adds up to uncommon sense. Or, as it is commonly known, knowledge.
I digress. But the point of my digression is that I also digressed in my photography at that cricket game, at what was clearly, at the time I digressed, a critical moment. There really is no excuse for the above photographic omission, except for me to say that I have not photoed very many cricket matches and am not very good at it.
After my day at the Oval, I am now strongly tempted to correct that, given what else you can see from the place, if you are a member. A crane and a Shard are a bug, when you should be photoing the scoreboard. But normally they would be a feature.
LATER: In other sports news, Perry de Havilland has a strange dream, and I had the exact same dream myself.
Now, some more pictures from that fabulous day out at the Oval, which was over a week ago now.
This time, it’s adverts. The crowd was, as already discussed, sparse. It was sparse because the game was played on a Monday, so that Sky could fit it into its schedule, but because Sky were present, the adverts at the ground packed an extra punch. I assume that a cricket club like Surrey has people who obsess not so much about cricket as about money, and it must be good news on the money front that all these adverts were to be seen on Sky TV.
You see adverts in lots of the photos of and television coverage of sports events, but it isn’t much talked about. Neither are all the empty seats that so often occur at sports events nowadays, particularly cricket matches. But, these pictures focus attention on all the adverts I saw at that game, by cropping out everything else.
Click on these adverts, and you get the original pictures from which I extracted them, which mostly also feature a lot of empty seats:
An odd effect of what I did here with all these adverts is that the more money you spent on your advert and the bigger and wider and more noticeable your advert was, at the Oval, the thinner it now is on BMdotcom.
Life can be cruel.
Just had another rootle in the photo-archives, and I encountered two nice (if rather cheesey (but I don’t care)) photos, which had in common that there were not entirely nice, but that if I cropped a couple of squares out of them, they became a lot nicer. The one on the left is the bottom right hand corner of the original. The one on the right is two thirds of the original with the left one third omitted.
Taken in Jan 2007 and Feb 2008. (Feb: no leaves.)
When I first started noticing new architecture about fifty years ago, glass figured prominently in the ravings of Modernist propagandists, being the means by which buildings made themselves transparent and thereby proclaimed their structural honesty and modernity.
This same glass was routinely hated by those obliged to live or work behind it. Glass was the means by which unfortunate inmates of Modernism were fried in the summer, frozen in the winter, or had their skirts looked up through by passing oglers. The heating and air-conditioning bills could be stupendous. Often, inmates shoved cardboard behind this glass, to diminish its worst impacts. Glass in modernistic buidings regularly got broken, often deliberately, not least because first generation modern buildings, at any rate in the UK, often brought out the worst in those subjected to it.
How times have changed, by which I mean: how glass has changed. It is far more varied now, far more cleverly made, far stronger and less breakable, and far more carefully used in buildings. Which is not surprising given that glass has only grown in importance, and in the percentage of the surface area of buildings that it now covers.
What follows is the whole of a short report, by Chris Jarvis of Sheppard Robson, of a round table conversation in which he participated last May, about the use of glass in building, organised by the Architect’s Journal.
The prose is sometimes rather businessy and clunky, but I found the content fascinating:
The conversation was focused on the specification of high-performance glazing. More specifically, how fundamental changes within the industry – which include shifts in legislation and the drive for efficiency in our built environment – have resulted in the specification of glass being determined much earlier in the design process.
Glazing is no longer an adjunct that is decided upon once a concept design is complete and planning has been granted. Issues such as orientation, shading and air-tightness need to be considered in the early stages of projects along with the specification of the glass to ensure the target energy performances can be met. Rigorous energy modelling is also important to enable the right glazing option to be chosen for project, site and client.
Availability of data
One of the key challenges in the specification process is the availability of the necessary rigorous data on materials. Currently, there is a feeling across the industry that the level of detailed product information is not readily available across the board. This provokes the question of how can technology be harnessed to collate the necessary technical performance and cost data - which architects, façade engineers and contractors can use - to make the right choices earlier in the process.
A holistic approach needs to be taken to assess all of the above criteria and select the most appropriate single, double or triple glazed units to meet the performance requirements, whilst staying within budget. Triple glazing is not currently a widely used material to boost performance, mostly due to the cost of the product. However, over the next few years this is likely to change: as triple glazing products become more widely used and technology develops to decrease the weight of the product, it will become more viable for projects and client budgets.
However, the use of more advanced, highly tuned technology requires more monitoring after completion to access the efficiency of the product over the lifespan of the building. Currently, rigorous data of how glazing performs after 10 and more years does not exist; how can new products help the industry close the ‘performance gap’ and alert us to poorly performing glass that is ultimately having a major impact on the efficiency of our built environment.
I chanced upon this at the Sheppard Robson website after photoing one of their buildings, the new headquarters of the Salvation Army, near St Paul’s, and then looking that up on the www:
It looks good, even if custom build HQs often spell trouble for the organisations which move into them.
While I’m on the subject of glass, several incoming emails have wanted to be sure that I had clocked this:
That’s a swimming pool made of glass. I yearn to photo oligarchical mistresses frolicking about in it, but, no chance. This will be inside a very gated community, in the vicinity of the new US Embassy in Battersea. I am optimistic, however, that we might all eventually catch a glimpse of such a thing in a James Bond movie, complete with frolicking oligarchical mistresses.
The above picture, and further details, here.
I like Palestra House, outside Southwark Tube. It’s a bit trashy and seventies looking, but I like it. Especially in nice weather, as it was when I recently photoed it, on the right here:
On the left is how Palestra House was looking on March 31st 2005. There was a faked-up picture of what they thought it would look like on the outside of the site, but you never really know these days, by which I mean for the last three decades or so. Although, there was an early clue, in the form of the beginnings of the glass cladding, as you can see.
One definition of Modern Movement modernism sixties vintage (as opposed to the later and more stylish versions), would be to say that when it was being built you did know only too well what it was going to look like. It was going to look like … that. And that … was not good.
I think that Palestra House, on the other hand, turned out quite good.
The Helter Skelter began to rise up a couple of years or so back, but then it stopped. Now, the Helter Skelter has been reborn, as the tallest Big Thing in this faked-up picture, in the middle:
The really good news:
At the top, London’s highest bar and restaurant will sit alongside a free public viewing gallery offering vistas over the smaller neighbouring towers, including Richard Rodger’s Cheesegrater, Rafael Viñoly’s Walkie Talkie and Foster + Partners’ Gherkin.
Eat your heart out Shard. Free public viewing platform. You’ll probably have to check in on a website the night before. But even so, good.
I promise nothing, but … expect pictures here of the Cheesegrater, the Walkie Talkie and the Gherkin, from above.
This afternoon I went walkabout, with quite another object in mind than the Shard. But, the Shard was looking peculiarly beautiful this evening, at any rate from where I was standing, on the Millennium Bridge.
At present I am not seeing this picture nearly as clearly as you probably are, because my proper computer (Godot) is ill and my laptop (
Dawkins Judas) only has a very small and inadequate screen.
What I hope you are seeing is the sky looking very earthly, but the Shard looking almost heavenly. The sky looks rough and the Shard looks smooth. The sky looks matt and the Shard looks gloss. Sky behind the Shard is dark, the Sky reflected off the Shard is light. London is dim, but the Shard is bright.
Renzo Piano, who designed this wondrous Thing, saw all this coming. He knew that the Shard would reflect in a quite different way to a merely vertical Thing, and today this effect was to be seen at its very best. I can only hope that my photo gives at least a clue of what was going on.
Indeed. After meeting the extended family and photoing those Dinky Toys, I made my way back to Egham Station via the RAF Memorial at the top of the hill that overlooks Runnymede. Runnymede and a lot else.
In the foreground, the River Thames. To the right, in the far distance, London and its towers, just visible, if you are lucky with the weather. Next to London and a bit nearer, Heathrow Airport, with the Wembley Arch clearly to be seen behind it. Straight ahead, big reservoirs.
And to the left, Windsor Castle:
Click on that little picture to get the bigger picture.
I am having a recurrence of those computer problems I described in this earlier posting, but have discovered that my picture processing programme does function after all, after a fashion. But very badly, and I am posting this picture of Windsor Castle because I remember that picture to be good, rather than because I know it to be.
The pictures I took from the top of the RAF Memorial yesterday seemed to me better than ones I had taken before from this spot, and I suspect that this is because yesterday was the first time I had used my latest camera at this vantage point. But my computer problems struck again before I could check this feeling against actual facts.
So meanwhile, enjoy Windsor Castle, assuming that the picture is as enjoyable as I remember it seeming to be when I looked at it last night.