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Category archive: Architecture

Sunday July 24 2016

Indeed:

image

It’s number seven of these.  Missed it when this was first shown.  But it’s never too late to show Big Things in alignment.

Saturday July 23 2016

This is a map showing my officially designated destination last Tuesday (the hottest day of the year (so far)).  Across the bottom we see the railway going from past Waterloo main station to Waterloo East, in the middle towards the bottom, horizontally:

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And just north of Waterloo East station is Roupell Street, in the middle of all those back-to-back houses, that I photoed in 2004 and then again last Tuesday (the hottest day of the year (so far)):

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Here we are at the Cornwall Road end of Roupell Street, looking east.  Lots of blue sky.  No clouds.  No clouds anywhere, actually.

I suspected gentrification, and the place did indeed have an air of rocketing house prices and of the banishment of old-fashioned workers, of the sort who presumably, once upon a time, lived in these houses.

In particular, I spotted three interesting vehicles.

First, a Citroen DS19 (I think 19):

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So far so (relatively) ordinary.

But this was a bit more exotic, also a Citroen, something called (I also photoed where it said this) an “SM”:

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And perhaps best of all, another vintage Citroen, in the form of an estate car version of the DS19:

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Click on the above three pictures to get to the uncropped and even more sun-drenched originals.

All of these Citroens were parked within the space of about two dozen yards of each other, the first two right next to each other.  I reckon what we have here is a collector of antique Citroens.  And if that isn’t gentrification, je ne sais quoi what is.

Friday July 22 2016

Last Tuesday was ferociously hot by English standards.

The first thing I noticed, when I stepped into the inferno that was outdoors, were those windows which are not windows. (1)

After dropping in on Gramex (on that day mostly stuffed with stuff I either already had or didn’t want), I went to Waterloo Station, where I came upon that Ghostbusters sculpture. (2)

I was at Waterloo because my officially designated destination was to check out the state of this view:

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I took that photo in July 2004, with a now antique Canon A70, through a window, hence those unfortunate reflections.

Because it was a rather dirty window, this photo also emits a rather antique-photo atmosphere, like it was taken in the very earliest days of colour photography, an atmosphere greatly reinforced by the subject matter.  Right in the middle of that snap is a bunch of back-to-back terrace houses.  Where are we?  Somewhere in The North?  No, we are looking out on a little bit of London near Waterloo Station, a strange clutch of houses left untouched by either bombing or Modern Architecture.  All around this antiquated patch of otherness, Modern Architecture is springing up, beating its chest and yelling for attention.  But the thing itself is an unsullied little set of dwellings that would not be out of place in a DH Lawrence TV adaptation.

Here is how the same view looked last Tuesday:

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No dirty window, no reflections, because I managed to get my camera through a small window opening out into the open.  Also, my latest camera takes a broader view of things, which means that the stubby tower in the 2004 photo has become slimmer, and more of the horizon is to be seen.  The Oxo Tower, for example, has moved into view.

The most obvious change is how 240 Blackfriars now blocks out so much.  Tate Modern, Tate Modern Extension, and a large chunk of the City, all blotted out.

The place where I took these photos, from the outside, in 2004 as now, looks like this:

image

Just before taking the new version of the back-to-backs view, I took another photo, through another window off to the right of the ones you see in the above photo, the one of the Wheel and the cranes and the clutter in this earlier posting about a cricket match. (3) Which makes this the forth posting involving photos taken on that expedition.

Sunday July 17 2016

I was out and about this evening, near to where I live, to do some shopping and to enjoy a late burst of sun.  And took this snap on the way home, in Vauxhall Bridge Road, looking across the river towards Battersea, where this tower now dominates:

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The sun was, as anticipated, making its presence felt, but I didn’t realise that the moon would put on such a show.  To line this up, all I had to do was walk down Vauxhall Bridge Road.  I know, I know, a better camera would have done better.  True.  But I still like what I got.

Soon, this view will be looking rather different.  No more splendid isolation for this Big Thing either (see below).

Saturday July 16 2016

Indeed:

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For reasons of my own I have been digging into the photo-archives.  This was taken on July 1st 2004.  No Cheesegrater.  No Walkie-Talkie.  No lots of Things.

Don’t you just hate how Modern Architecture blocks out the view of the Gherkin?

Thursday July 14 2016

Indeed:

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The Park in question is Finsbury, the Park Theatre being near to Finsbury Park, and more to the point from my point of view, Finsbury Park tube station.  I was there last night to see a friend perform at the Park Theatre, which she did very well.

That LIFE sign thing is just outside the smaller theatre space, where my friend was performing, at the top of the rest of the theatre.  I do not know why it is there.  Could it be that they hope that people will photo it, and then mention the Park Theatre on the internet?

I suppose the creator of this sign could also have been thinking of that old Blur tune.  But that, I believe, concerns a different park.

Wednesday July 13 2016

I continue to photo London’s black cabs and their adverts, particularly when they are entirely not black, because of being covered in a big taxi-shaped advert.

Here, for instance, is an unblack cab that particularly caught my eye, in Oxford street around a week ago:

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What strikes me about this image …:

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… (and oh look, I managed to save the picture without all the website verbiage on top of it), is that London looks … well, see the title of this. 

The way the website puts a logo of Principal Tower in the middle of that picture makes it look like Principal Tower is right in the middle of all this foggy drama.  Actually it’s way off to the left, near Broadgate Tower, beyond Liverpool Street Station.

As for this looking like Dubai, I have in mind pictures of Dubai that look like this:

image

I guess there’s something rather appealing about the idea of living in a magic tower which just hovers in the sky, with all that mess below blotted out.  Unless you need to nip out to do some shopping.

Monday July 11 2016

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking that there I was, making my first visit to the Tate Modern Extension, and photoing from the top of it: Big Things, cranes, roof clutter, bridges, churches dwarfed by modernity, and so forth and so on, but I made no mention of other photographers.  Did I perhaps ignore them?

Oh no.

This was the first picture I took of the new building when we arrived in its vicinity, not of the whole building, but of some people at the top of it, taking photos:

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And when I got to the top myself, I was keen to photo more of my fellow photoers, and I did:

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage

The first and last of those nine photos are of people taking photos of the building.  All the others are, as you can surely see, of people taking photos from the building, from that excellent top level aperture.

Almost entirely smartphones.  I didn’t pick them out that way.  That’s just how it turned out.  The only non-smartphone camera is in the top picture, the one taken from the ground, and even he has a smartphone snapper next to him.

Sunday July 10 2016

I remember the time well.  It was when I first had a really nice camera, and I explored the banks of the River Thames, finding all manner of things that I never knew existed until I chanced upon them, camera in hand.  This statue of Lord Nelson, for example, which is outside a pub called the Trafalgar Tavern, in Greenwich, which I encountered in July 2007:

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The www offers two sorts of pictures of this statue.  There are the ones that show his face and medals, with the Trafalgar Tavern behind his Lordship, often with the word Trafalgar carefully included.  And there are the views from behind, like mine, which provide a modern background, in the form of the Docklands towers or the Dome.

I did take a front view of this statue, but it was totally ruined by my shadow blasting its way into the middle of the picture.  The fact that I didn’t bother to retake that shot tells you that I preferred the modern background shots.

Saturday July 09 2016

There are some excellent photos of the new Tate Modern Extension to be found here, this one being number 3 of the big pictures at the top of that posting:

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As that picture shows very well, they’ve stuck a big lump onto the back of the Original Tate Modern, which is the Big Thing with the big tower on the left as we look.  Tate Modern itself calls this new lump, on the right, the “Switch House”, which may or may not catch on as the real name of this thing.  We shall see.

The new lump is a sort of cross between a modernistic erection from the Concrete Monstrosity era of Modern Architecture and a Crusader Castle.  The structure is concrete, but the surface is brick, just like Original Tate Modern.  And very handsome it looks, to my eyes.  Those thin windows suggest to me people who want to be able to fire arrows at you, while being much harder to hit themselves.  An appropriately belligerent metaphor for the still somewhat fraught relationship between Modern Art and the surrounding culture.

What that set of pictures at Dezeen does not wallow in is what you can see from the new Tate Modern Extension, and especially from that bigger opening at the top, the one without glass.  That is indeed what it looks like from below.  It is a viewing gallery.  I never quite believe arrangements like that until I have personally sampled them.  What will it cost?  Do you have to book?  Is there a lot of airport security crap to get through?  Etc.  But all the answers were good.  It’s free, there is no security theatre to contend with, and the viewing gallery was everything that it promised to be.

I was up there with GodDaughter 2 last Sunday afternoon, and trying not to ignore her completely.  Plus, the place was about to close.  So I was very much in we’ll-look-at-it-when-we-get-home mode.  But I got some good snaps, which at least inform you of the sorts of views you get up there, even if they don’t always hit the spot for artistic impression:

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Big Things.  Cranes.  Roof clutter.  Bridges.  Churches dwarfed by modernity.  BMdotcom heaven, in other words.  Click at will.

LATER: Or, even better (much better actually), click on this.

Wednesday July 06 2016

That being the name I have given to this photo, taken yesterday afternoon:

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Pride of place in all the temporariness goes to Centre Point, currently having some kind of makeover.  But there are also cranes, crane shadows, flags, and all manner of urban thisness and thatness, including a big face on the back of a Boris bus, advertising Coca Cola.

Why the Union Jacks I wonder?  Was the idea that, following the vote for Remain that was obviously going to happen, there would always be a Britain?  Tourists, this place is still its good old British self?  Leavers, bad luck, this is your consolation prize?  Remaining doesn’t mean that Britain will be gobbled up by Europe?  (Even though that is the plan.) Seriously, I wonder what the thinking was there.

Whatever, it makes for a pretty photo, I think.  Also, good light.

Tuesday July 05 2016

Indeed.  Taken in July 2006, through the green green glass of one of the Docklands Towers.  Not the pointy one, the one next to it:

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Michael Jennings, whose comments here are more informative than most of my postings, arranged this particular expedition.  I think he was working there at the time,

No Shard.  No Walkie-Talkie.  No Cheesegrater.  Photos like this get better with time.

Thursday June 30 2016

6k writes about the long journey from journeyman amateur snapper to Artist:

I don’t pretend to be a photo ninja. I can point, and I can shoot, and sometimes the results can be pretty good. Very occasionally, they can be startlingly good, but only very occasionally. I need to work more at not just pointing and shooting to increase the percentage of those startlingly good shots. We’ll get there.

There follows a picture of a bird spreading its wings.  In other words, the capture of a fleeting moment.

6k photos his family quite a bit, as they do things like explore the spectacularly beautiful coastline near where he lives, in South Africa.  Photoing your loved ones is also a matter of capturing the exact right moment.

With me, I think I get nearest to Art when I’m lining things up with each other.  I have a mental list of things I like, and a picture counts double in my head, if I can line a couple, or maybe even more, of these things.  The most characteristic of such alignments over the years have typically involved a digital photographer, with a London Big Thing in the background.

Here are a couple of efforts I might pick out to enter a competition, if someone told me I had to do that:

imageimageimage

In these two cases, there is also an element of me waiting for the right moment, or more accurately me snapping lots of promising looking moments and picking out the best one.

Those two are from this huge collection of unrecognisable photographers, which I doubt many of you scrutinised in its entirety.  So there are two of them again.  I particularly like the one with the blue balloon.

And here is another exercise in lining things up, captured just a few days ago.  This time, the object at the front is a plastic water bottle, resting on the anti-pigeon netting in the courtyard outside and above my kitchen window.  Behind the bottle is a thing that regulars here will know that I like a lot, namely: scaffolding!  This being the scaffolding at the top of the big conversion job that’s being done across the courtyard from me:

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That picture involves something I don’t usually like to do, which is cropping.  The original snap was rather bigger.

I don’t know what exactly I’ve got against cropping, but it feels to me like only one or two notches up from cheating.  Maybe I take rather excessive pride in (the Art of) getting the snap I want to emerge straight from the camera, no muss, no fuss, no photoshop.  The truth, of course, is that cropping is itself very much an Art.  But because I don’t do cropping that much, I probably could have cropped this photo a whole lot better than I actually did.

Wednesday June 29 2016

I must have walked past it a hundred times, from Currys PC World and on my way down Tottenham Court Road towards to Maplins, seeking blank DVDs and plastic DVD sleeves.  But yesterday I actually noticed it.  Above a back alley called Beaumont Place, just before it arrives at the back entrance of University College Hospital, there is a a footbridge:

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A rather strange one.  Hospitals often have these little footbridges, connecting the Somethingtrics Department to the Somethingology Ward, or whatever, so medics and more to the point patients, don’t have to go down to ground level and into the big outdoors.

But unlike many such bridges, which were clearly added years after the original buildings were erected, this one looks to have been part of the original design, to attach the new green building to the older dark grey and boxy building.  (Form, as is usual with Modern Architecture, is following fashion as well as function.)

What is that strange lump on one side of it, on the bottom?  And what’s with the big sticking-out dark grey and boxy bit that the bridge is attached to?

That strange curved pointy thing, to be seen in the left hand picture behind the bridge, sticks out high above over that back entrance.  Perhaps the idea was to draw attention to the entrance, but if so, it contributes very little along those lines.  Having the words “University College Hospital” and below that, in bigger letters, the word “Entrance” , does that job far better.  Aside from being physically pointy, the high-up pointy thing just looks pointless.  But maybe it has some other more meaningful purpose.

Monday June 27 2016

Usually, I do quota postings in the small hours of the morning.  Today, I am doing my quota posting in the big hours of the morning, to get it out of the way before a rather busy day, at the end of which I do not want to be fretting about doing a quota posting.  Although, actually, this posting has now turned into something a bit more substantial than that, and I changed the title to something more meaningful.  So anyway, yes, cranes:

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Ah, cranes!  Those structurally perfect votes of confidence in the sky.  Those cranes were snapped from the south bank of the river, looking across at The City, on the same day earlier this month that I snapped yesterday’s quota photo.  What that new Moderately Big Thing is, that some of the cranes there are ministering to, I do not know, but I like how it looks, in its incomplete state.

With Brexit, will the cranes vanish for a few years, until London sorts itself out and finds itself some new business to be doing?  Crexit?  (You can always tell when a word has well and truly caught on, because people immediately start trying to apply the same verbal formula to other things.  Brexit, verbally speaking, is the new Watergate.  Frexit, Swexit, Thisgate, Thatgate, etc. etc.) I thought that the cranes were going to depart after 2008 and all that, but the money people managed to keep the plates spinning on their sticks, and London’s cranes carried on.  How will it be this time?

Here is a very pessimistic piece about Britain’s prospects, for the immediately foreseeable future.  Does this mean that my crane photo-archive will, in hindsight, be the capturing of a moment of the economic history of London that will now pass?  If the cranes do go, how will they look when they return?  When the new cranes move in, in ten years time or whenever, will cranes like those above look strangely retro, like digital cameras circa 2005?

Or, will the cranes never return, but instead be replaced by magic electric guns which fill the air with muck and sculpt a building out of the muck, 3D printing style, all in the space of an afternoon?