Brian Micklethwait's Blog
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Chris Cooper on Longer life would make most of us (certainly me) more energetic and ambitious
Brian Micklethwait on Indian sign cautions against selfie sticks
Michael Jennings on Indian sign cautions against selfie sticks
Brian Micklethwait on Photoing last Friday's Last Friday meeting
Michael Jennings on Photoing last Friday's Last Friday meeting
Brian Micklethwait on Tim Marshall on 'Sykes-Picot'
Patrick Crozier on Tim Marshall on 'Sykes-Picot'
kenforthewin on The most newsworthy thing so far done by a drone
6000 on UPS drones and drone vans
6000 on Guess what this is
Most recent entries
- Slam City Skates in Covent Garden
- And in Other creatures news …
- Cat proximity awareness
- Looking up in the City
- Indian sign cautions against selfie sticks
- Leake Street photo session
- Longer life would make most of us (certainly me) more energetic and ambitious
- Azure Window broken
- Beltane & Pop van parked on the South Bank yesterday afternoon
- New River Walk
- Die Meistersinger was very good
- Spring in Islington
- ROH Covent Garden here I come
- Today’s plan
- Photoing the faces of strangers (or in my case: not)
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Category archive: Architecture
Taking pictures like these, which I took earlier in the week, is really easy, if you have a twiddly screen, the way all my cameras have had, ever since I first got a camera with a twiddly screen:
Imagine how to compose all those shots while looking vertically upwards, the way my camera was.
On a more serious note, what these photos illustrate is the design anarchy of London. Individual buildings are designed. Of course they are. But there is little in the way of aesthetic coordination going on.
But, imagine if there was aesthetic coordination. There would have to be an aesthetic coordinator, individual or collective. And what if that coordinator made everything conform to a dreary design? All those who say that London’s Big Things should be overseen by a Grand Designer all assume that the Grand Designer would impose a Grand Design they would like. But Big Things are often very ugly, so the Grand Design might be ugly too.
No, I prefer anarchy, where each building does its own thing. Successful styles are copied. Failed styles gradually get phased out. Okay, very gradually.
And each Big Thing developer gets to do what he wants to do with his own property. The resulting anarchy is something I relish rather than regret.
Incoming from Michael Jennings, who encountered this sign at (a?) (the?) Jodhpur Fort in Rajasthan:
Hm, what to do?
Easy. Use a drone instead.
LATER: See first comment. It’s this:
There can only be one fort like that.
Categories updated to include Architecture, History, Sport, and War.
Blog and learn.
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:
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.
Or maybe Highbury. The nearby tube station hedges its bets and claims it’s both. (This particular spot may actually be Canonbury.)
Die Meistersinger goes on for ever, so since I don’t want to be fretting about this blog after it, but before I go to bed, here is a pre-emptive quota photo, taken on Monday:
The pink blossom signals the arrival of spring. But happily, 2017’s tree leaves have not yet arrived to spoil the view of the Shard, which you can just about see through the trees, to the left, as we look, of the pink blossom.
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:
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.
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.
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?:
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.
This Dezeen story about robots doing construction work includes this very tasty image:
This is when google image searching does work. You type in “robot bridge” or some such word combo, click on images, and find the story immediately.
MX3D’s CTO Tim Geurtjens explains:
“We start with a piece of metal attached to the canal bank. The robots start from one side of the canal, they print their own support structure, so essentially it prints its own bridge. It stands on the floor of the bridge, 3D prints out more and keeps moving,” ...
There are many more pictures, including, which is how I found this linkage, this:
That second photo being, I’m pretty sure, the original unphotoshopped version of the photo in the first photo, above.
Very pretty. It would seem that the big difference between a regular structure and a 3D structure is that, with 3D printing, joining bits of metal to bits of metal is not a problem, because it’s all one bit, which means you can have as many joins as you like. And the other thing is that you can make everything the exact size it needs to be, and make it like a sculpture, rather than what we are used to in a structure, where all the bits tend to have unvarying shapes in section, if you get my meaning. Once they finally get their hands on this kit, the architects will go mad with it.
This story dates from a couple of years ago. But never mind, these things always take a long time to go from something that is about to explode, to actually exploding. And then when they do explode, it all happens in a completely different way to what had been envisaged.
I often travel to Euston by tube, changing there from or to the Victoria Line to or from the Northern Line, but I very rarely emerge into the street at Euston. But yesterday, I did this. I arrived by tube and I exited via the main concourse of the main railway station, on account of these new concourses being, I think, interesting places. And then when I exited from the main station, I noticed, for the first time, the rather handsome statue of Robert Stephenson that is to be seen out there, if you do that.
This statue is very fine, I think:
Perhaps because of its modern surroundings, I suspected this statue of being a recent piece of pseudo-antiquity, perhaps motivated by guilt for all the architectural antiquity at Euston that got demolished. But no, the statue dates from a mere decade after Stephenson’s death, which was in 1859.
I only discovered just now that Robert Stephenson designed the Rocket, the first ever steam locomotive. I thought his dad George did that, but George merely did the railway. Blog and learn.
Yesterday I told you about a photo I took on January 20th of this year. Earlier that day I had journeyed to Bromley-By-Bow tube station, then walked south along the River Lea, and ended my wanderings at Star Lane Station. It was a great day for photoing, and I especially enjoyed photoing this witty sculpture:
But who did it? This evening I realised that I seemed to recall Mick Hartley having something to say about this, and so it proved.
It’s by Abigail Fallis, and it is called DNA DL90. Well, I say that’s what it’s called. That’s what Abigail Fallis called it, but I bet nobody else calls it that. I bet what most people call it is more like: Shopping Trolley Spiral. I’m guessing further that Abigail Fallis regards her sculpture as some kind of critique of late capitalist consumerism. But such ArtGrumbling need not stop the rest of it thoroughly enjoying the thing, and also continuing to relish our trips to the supermarket, there to sample the delights of early capitalism. Because you see, Abigail, capitalism is just getting started.
Yes. I was right. Says Hartley:
It is, says Fallis, a symbol of modern society’s consumer culture, which has now become entwined in our genetic make-up. They can’t help themselves, can they, these artists?
The usual bitch about Artsists is that they are predictable, and indeed they are. But this was something else again. I literally predicted this, before I read it. How predictable is that? Very, very.
As regulars here will know, I am interested by the phenomenon of colour. I don’t mean people of colour, and all the arguments around that. I mean the colours of things like paint, walls, modern architecture. Red, blue, green, yellow. Actual colours. (Plus also: black and white.)
So, I was greatly intrigued by a piece that I recently encountered, about how blue tarantula spiders are inspiring techies to make 3D printed blue.
Tarantulas aren’t usually known for having a striking blue color, but the ones that do recently inspired new technology that can produce vibrant, 3D-printed color that will never fade.
Back in 2015, a team of researchers led by the University of Akron marveled at the spiders’ blue hue and concluded that it was created not from pigment but from nanostructures in their hairs. In other words, these tarantulas are blue because of structural color, which is produced through light scattering caused by structures of sub-micrometer size features made by translucent materials.
I love grand histories of everything, which look at the past, present and future of mankind through just the one lens. Weapons. Communications. Spices. Potatoes. That kind of thing. I recently purchased a book called The Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World. Well, one of the next books I am going to purchase is likely to be a history of the world seen entirely in terms of mankind’s quest for colour - natural and artificial, or, as above, and I suspect very typically, a combination of the two.
Yesterday I was at Clapham Junction. Here is what I photoed when I went to the far northern end of platform 12 (I think it was), further from the river than I usually find myself, and looked back towards London in a northerly direction:
I say London. That’s mostly Battersea, in the form of all the new buildings springing up around the new US Embassy, which you can see at the bottom of the Spraycan. The Spraycan is the big tower on the left (although if you google “spraycan”, I’m guessing that all you will get is lots of spraycans). The Embassy is the box with the crinkly diamond pattern on it.
The only serious evidence of life beyond Battersea is the Shard, on the right of the Spraycan.
But, ... cranes! I make it sixteen of them. Lovely.
Dezeen details here:
Bring it on.
Friday is my day for cats and other creatures, but it is also David Thompson’s day for more substsantial collections of all this weird and wonderful on the internet, and one ephemeron (ephemeros? ephemerum?) in his collection today is this:
Brutalist colouring book. Because concrete needs colour.
I followed that link.
Brutalism lovers, sharpen your cold grey and warm grey pencils and add some colour to some great concrete constructions. First edition of 500 hundred copies. Each copy is numbered.
Ooh. First edition. Numbered copies. Very arty. Sign of the times? I want it to be.
I have long thought that the brutalities of brutalism could use a bit of softening, and actually, a lot of softening. With colour. Bring it on.
Someone who agreed with me, from way back was, actually, would you believe?: Le Corbusier. He was into bright colours to soften the brutalities of his brutalism, from the getgo.
(See also: these colourful kittens. No softening needed there, but it was done anyway.)
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:
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.
At the end of the latest round of English Premier League football games (everyone has now played 22 games (out of 38, yes?)), the top six in the Premier League are, as of now, in order from the top: Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool, Man City, Man U.
When was the last time the top three Premier League spots were all London? And when were both the Manchester clubs last outside the top four? Well, maybe one or both of those things happened quite a few times very recently, but my point is, either very recently (as part of the same thing as is happening right now) or: never. I’m guessing. Corrective comments welcome.
Arsenal have recently built themselves a brand new stadium, and now Spurs and Chelsea are both doing the same. Once all the confusions associated with the custom-built headquarters syndrome have calmed down, these erections will surely cement London’s Premier League supremacy. Although it has to be said that Arsenal have perhaps punched below their new economic weight in recent seasons.
London is also, if you are a highly paid footballer, an ever more amusing and better connected place to live in, provided you can handle all the drama and excitement and combine that with continuing to be a good footballer. Maybe Arsenal’s problem has been that their players haven’t coped with these pressures very well. So. and contrary to my title and my earlier thoughts, will Chelsea and Spurs actually do less well once their new places are in place?