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Category archive: Architecture

Wednesday April 17 2019

Yes, telling you about how I’ve been in France.

So. where was I?  In France?  Well, to give you an idea, here are some of the excellent places I visited:

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Whenever I am in foreign parts, I always photo signs, adverts, and the like.  Every place has its own style for doing such things, so signage photos can be very evocative, when you look back at them.  Also, they tell you where you were, and hence what all the other photos taken at the same time were of.

Click on the above photo-fragments to get some context.  If you are curious about any of these places, well, you now have the words you need to go searching.  Words are already links, in the sense that you don’t need me to turn them into links.

I especially like how, when you leave a French town or village, you get a sign with the name crossed through with a red line (2.3).

I also photo war memorials, keeping a particular eye open for repeated surnames.  In Lagrasse (3.1), Baillat, Fontvieille and Jougla are surnames that each get two mentions.

I also like to photo the stuff in tourist shops, especially the postcards (1.1 and 3.2).  That way, you get what tourists generally consider to be the best views, and are alerted to interesting local things which you otherwise might miss even learning about.  Although, in St Cyprien, I got a bit of aggro from a couple shopkeepers who objected to me photoing their produce instead of buying it.

Tuesday April 16 2019

There you were, waiting for a good time to con your way past the front door of my block of flats by saying you’re the postman, to climb my stairs, to bash in my front door and to plunder my classical CD collection.  All that was stopping you was the fear of me bashing your skull to bits with my cricket bat, which I keep handy for just this sort of eventuality.

So anyway, there you were reading all about how my life for the last week has been complicated.  But, I clean forgot to tell you that the reason for all this complication was that I was off in the south of France.  Silly old me.  I’m getting old, I guess.

Here’s how the south of France was looking:

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Those are the Pyrenees at the back there.  In the foreground, lots of little wine trees.

The weather looks slightly better in that than it really was, what with it having been so very windy.  Especially on the final day of my stay, up on this thing.

Monday April 15 2019

An airplane approaches London City Airport.  There are cranes, leaning away from each other, ...

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... which was all I thought I was photoing.  Until I looked at it at home on a much bigger thing; and saw a Much Bigger Thing:

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Yes, the Big Olympic Thing.

Another photo of somewhere, turned into somewhere by the same Big Thing.

Wednesday April 10 2019

For a posting I did here last Saturday, I went looking for an example of Mick Hartley sneering at an idiot artist (it didn’t matter which one) for talking art-speak bollocks.  It actually took me quite a lot of scrolling to find such a posting.  Mostly he features photos that he likes, and anti-semitism and such stuff, that he doesn’t like.

While scrolling for the art-speak bollocks, I came across this wonderful photo, which Hartley found here:

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One of the many things this photo illustrates is, I think, what a truly magnificent building the Walkie-Talkie is turning out to be.  The variety of effects it creates, depending on the light and on where you are, is truly amazing.  I love how, in this particular photo, its windows merge into the general pattern of city windows, with individual buildings being hard to discern as the sources of all the bright little rectangles.

The Walkir-Talkie was hated at first, by many, many people.  But the reality of it is, from far away, from quite far away (as above), and from close-up, is truly wonderful, as is what you can see from it.

See also, as time goes by: The Tulip.

I also like all the little red lights in that photo, which are there, I believe, to scare away helicopters.

Tuesday April 09 2019

I see this building every time I step outside Highbury and Islington tube station:

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I wondered whether such a photo was worth showing here at all; but a friend saw it and liked it, so there it is.

Life for me just now is complicated, There may be quite a few brief and rather perfunctory postings like this in the next few days.

Sunday April 07 2019

Or to put it another way:

London’s new Tulip skyscraper is great, but why aren’t more people embedding sharks in their roof?

Well, I can think of quite a few answers to that question, but I get the point that Joel Dimmock is making and I like it very much.

Is there starting to be a hum, as the late Chris Tame used to call it, in favour of people being free to build whatever crazy buildings they want to build with their own money on their own property?

One of the more interesting facts about the quotes quoted above is that they appear in The Independent.  Okay, in the “Voices” (clickbate?) section, but still, The Independent.  Is The Independent starting to be in favour of … independence?

Saturday April 06 2019

The designated starting point of my walk beside the river last Monday was Assembly (that being a photo of Assembly being assembled), the sculpture assembly outside the Woolwich Arsenal next to the river:

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Those are some of the photos I photoed, and they are pretty much the photos everyone else photos of these metal men, and pretty much the same as the photos I photoed when last I visited these men.  That was in April 2011.  It doesn’t feel like it was that long ago, which I think is because these metal men, once seen, are not soon forgotten.

Assembly is the work of Peter Burke.  My googling skills are such that I often have to have several goes at a subject before I find my way to the stuff that I find the most informative and interesting.  I can just about remember visiting the Peter Burke website, but I don’t recall ever reading this biography of Peter Burke before.  Nor do I recall learning that this Assembly assembly began life somewhere else.  Or maybe he did an Assembly for that rural setting, and then did another Assembly for outside the Woolwich Arsenal.  Yes, probably that.  Burke is big on mass production, like his contemporary and mate (apparently) Gormley.

And, I certainly never watched this video of Peter Burke speaking until now.  As with all artists talking about their work, I see rather little connection between what he says about his work and what the work says to me.  But at least what he says is mostly accurate, in that he mostly describes how he made it.  There is hardly any pretentious art-speak bollocks of the sort that would get him sneered at at Mick Hartley‘s.

A key to why I like Peter Burke is that before he started doing art he was a Rolls Royce engineer, working on aero-engines.  He liked and still likes how stuff like that looks.  Snap.  Unlike me, from then on, he knew how to make it.

But someone could do all the things Peter Burke describes himself doing when he does his art and produce art that says nothing to me at all.  Insofar as he does describe what he thinks his art actually means, he pretty much loses me.  Which might explain why I only like some of his art, such as Assembly.

What I get from Assembly, as well as the obvious military vibes I wrote about in that 2011 posting, is something to do with stoicism, emotional self-control, being a man, being a man under extreme pressure while keeping your manly cool.  Even to the point of looking rather comical while doing all this.

Friday April 05 2019

On June 13th 2008 I was wandering about in Quimper, photoing photos.  Mostly the photos were of such things as Quimper Cathedral with its twin spires, photoers photoing Quimper Cathedral with its twin spires, that kind of thing.

But in among all those, and with no accompanying explanation (like a context photo with less zoom (memo to self: always photo a context photo if it might help)), this:

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KanaBeach seems to be some sort of Brittany based clothing brand ("Kanabeach est une entreprise de vêtements bretonne"), which a few years later seems to have crashed and burned, after which catastrophe it may or may not have made a recovery.  (A recovery attempt which involved a giraffe, for some reason.)

But, I have no idea who Jean-Francois Kanabeach is.  And I am similarly baffled by the Nuclear Rabbits From Outta Space.  Google’s basic reaction to that was, first off, to ask if I meant “Nuclear Rabbits From Outer Space”.

A rabbit was, so it says here, launched into space in 1959.  And the Chinese did some stuff on the Moon in 2013, with something called the Jade Rabbit (aka Yutu).  But Nuclear Rabbits, from Outta Space?  Quesque c’est? Usually the Internet has something to say in answer to questions like this.  But in this matter, rien.

Wednesday April 03 2019

I follow Tottenham Hotspur on Twitter, and for once, the hysterical tweeting whenever Spurs score a goal (often in a game they lose (which they don’t tweet about the rest of)) was justified.  This time the fuss concerned the very first goal scored for Spurs in their new stadium, by Son Heung-min. 

Spurs beat Crystal Palace 2-0.

Here’s what the new stadium looks like, with added fireworks:

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It says there: “Just incredible.”

I’m not a real Spurs fan, because I don’t think it looks “just incredible”.  I just think it looks like a football stadium, and a rather bland and boring one.  But, that’s fine.  It’s a big old machine for people to play and watch football in.  Also American Football and pop music, apparently, which makes sense.

I also like this photo:

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In the distance, the Walthamstow Wetlands, i.e. various reservoirs.  Here is a photo I took of the stadium from next to those reservoirs.

This was not just an important occasion for Spurs; it was also an important game for Spurs.  Had Spurs lost to Crystal Palace this evening, it would have put a severe damper on the rest of their season.  As it is, they will return to their new home for the next game they play there in very good spirits.

Tuesday April 02 2019

So tweets City AM’s Christian May.

Everybody is now bitching about this Thing, just like they did with the Eiffel Tower.  Do “we need” it?  Blah blah.  Well guess what: I want it.  And more to point the people paying for it and wanting to build it want it.

Although, I did agree with the Dezeen commenter who said that maybe a Tulip is not the sort of thing you want in the middle of one of the world’s great financial districts.

LATER: Julia H-B:

Like all of London’s new skyscrapers, I’ll hate it.*

*Until I love it.

Precisely.

Monday April 01 2019

Today, in the spectacular weather that had been promised and which duly occurred, I took a walk along the river, from the Woolwich Arsenal back towards the centre of London in a westerly direction until I got to the Dome, ak these days a the O2.

I saw many things, but I only now have the energy to tell you about one of them.  This:

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Click to get a more panoramic view, with more context.

After much futile searching with Google Maps, I eventually just took a guess that it might be something to do with London City Airport, and so it proved.  (Scroll down there and all is explained.) This is the London City Airport Digital Air Traffic Control Tower.  Thanks to this structure, and thanks in particular to its numerous superzoom surveillance cameras, the people who do the Air Traffic Control for London City Airport can be miles away.  Either they already are or they soon will be:

London City Airport has announced it is to become the first UK airport to build and operate a digital air traffic control tower, with a multi-million pound investment in the technology. The innovative plans are a flagship moment in the airport’s 30th anniversary year, and mark the start of a technological revolution in UK airport air traffic management.

Working closely with NATS, the UK’s leading provider of air traffic control services, London City Airport has approved plans for a new tower, at the top of which will be 14 High Definition cameras and two pan-tilt-zoom cameras. The cameras will provide a full 360 degree view of the airfield in a level of detail greater than the human eye and with new viewing tools that will modernise and improve air traffic management.

The images of the airfield and data will be sent via independent and secure super-fast fibre networks to a brand new operations room at the NATS control centre in Swanwick, Hampshire. From Swanwick, air traffic controllers will perform their operational role, using the live footage displayed on 14 HD screens that form a seamless panoramic moving image, alongside the audio feed from the airfield, and radar readings from the skies above London, to instruct aircraft and oversee movements.

That announcement happened in 2017.  The tower no longer needs to be a computer graphic, because there it now is.  But, I suspect, only rather recently.  I think the reason I couldn’t find this Thing on Google Maps is that Google Maps has not yet caught up.

Scaffolding is not a category for this posting.  It may look like scaffolding, but it’s not.  That’s it.

Wednesday March 27 2019

While I’m on the subject of One Blackfriars, as I was last night, here is a rather charming piece of urban sculpture to be seen outside its front door, photoed earlier on the day I photoed the photo in the previous posting:

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I’ve heard this expression but never understood what it was about.  Having read this, I now understand it a bit better:

Wet risers are used to supply water within buildings for firefighting purposes. The provision of a built-in water distribution system means that firefighters do not need to create their own distribution system in order to fight a fire and avoids the breaching of fire compartments by running hose lines between them.

Wet risers are permanently charged with water. This is as opposed to dry risers which do not contain water when they are not being used, but are charged with water by fire service pumping appliances when necessary.

Part B of the building regulations (Fire Safety) requires that fire mains are provided in all buildings that are more than 18 m tall. In buildings less than 50 m tall, either a wet riser or dry riser fire main can be provided. However, where a building extends to more than 50 m above the rescue service vehicle accesslevel, wet risers are necessary as the pumping pressure required to charge the riser is higher than can be provided by a fire service appliance, and to ensure an immediate supply of water is available at high level.

Blog and learn.

Tuesday March 26 2019

About a fortnight ago, I wandered along the south bank, and although the City Big Thing Cluster wasn’t the main focus of my attention, I couldn’t help noticing that the Scalpel in particular was looking very fine:

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As was the Gherkin, not least because, from that particular spot, you can still see it.

And as was One Blackfriars:

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I especially like that one of One Blackfriars.  Because of the contrast between what the fading light does to its glass surface and what the fading light doesn’t do to all that brickwork and concrete (to say nothing of the ship at the front), it looks like One Blackfriars has been Photoshopped in from a different photo.  But as you all surely know, I could never contrive an effect like that.

Monday March 25 2019

Matt Kilkoyne:

The growth of London’s Isle of Dogs is beautiful. More please.

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What I like about this is the way the Big Things in the background are all blue-grey glass, while the little things in the foreground are all the same reddish brick.  It’s almost as if they knew beforehand what plans would be allowed and what plans wouldn’t!  These Big Things are totally unlike the City towers, in mostly being individually banal and un-"iconic", yet they add up to something that is indeed, to me anyway, rather impressive.  The bigger it all gets the more impressive it will be.  London – this bit of it at least - has learned from New York.

This is all part of the relentless shift of London’s centre gravity down river.

Down river towards London Gateway, about which the internet still has amazingly little to say.  My take on that?  There will be the grandmother of all grand openings, if only to accommodate all the reporters on that project who have been persuaded to say nothing about it for now.  (Or: Do reporters truly not care?  If so, more fool them.)

Thursday March 21 2019

Looking out over the gloom of Bermondsey yesterday, with maximum zoom, from the balcony of a friend’s flat:

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Despite the dreariness and consequent blurriness, you can clearly see the Big Olympic Thing there.  Next to it, right behind the tower of the crane, you can also see, if you look a bit harder, the top of the London Stadium, now the home of West Ham United.

What this photo illustrates, among many other things, is the enormous contribution to a city made by Recognisable and Big Things.  Most of what you see in that photo is dull Unless you are a craniac like me) and generic.  You could be anywhere.  But once you see that contorted red shape, however dimly, you know at once where you are looking and what you are looking at.  These Things aren’t called “landmarks” for nothing.  They are like giant squirts of solidified piss from God.  They mark the landscape.  They give it shape and structure.  You know where you are with them, but without them, you don’t.  Without them, you could be anywhere.  With them, everywhere becomes somewhere.