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- Did the ghostly Blackfriars Bridge columns make the new station more buildable?
- Another London Big Thing alignment
- Shard and Walkie-Talkie from the top of the Cheesegrater
- The hottest day of the year (5): Old Citroens in Roupell Street
- The hottest day of the year (4): An antique view from Waterloo
- Large number of jobs
- The draw that turned out not to be
- Ghostbusters sculpture advert at Waterloo Station
- On the connection between drinking lots of coffee and living a long and healthy life
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- LIFE at the Park Theatre
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Category archive: Bridges
I love before and after pictures. Here is another, showing how the world looked before Blackfriars Bridge Railway Station was built (photo taken in 2004), and after it was built (photo taken a few weeks ago).
What the two pictures have in common in those ghostly red columns, left over from an earlier Blackfriars railway bridge.
I seem to recall once upon a time speculating that the ugly lump next to the Shard made the Shard possible.Yes:
The Ugly Lump with the gasometer in front of it, on the right, is Guy’s Hospital. The other day I heard myself surmising that maybe if Guy’s Hospital had never been built, the Shard might not have been built either. As it was, there was no nearby neighbourhood or particular bit of the London skyline to ruin, aesthetically speaking, because that job had already been done by Guy’s. As it was, any aesthetical objection to the Shard was, as far as the immediate locals were concerned, a non-starter.
I still think that’s right. And what I now wonder is: did something similar happen with the new Blackfriars Station, the one on the bridge, that you can see in the right hand picture above, but not in the left had one? What I’m thinking is that the view that you see on the left, looking over Blackfriars railway bridge to the towers of the City is perhaps not a view that London’s rulers were especially proud of, what with those columns. Personally, I love the columns. For me, they are classic London at its weirdest and most eccentric. But you can imagine Powerful People being a bit uneasy about this oddity, and about the fact that Something Should Have Been Done About Them, by, you know, them. So, a railways station which spoilt this view, while not doing too much violence to views across the top of the bridge from further away, might not have been unwelcome. Without the columns, however, there was a view that they might not have been so ready to see interrupted.
This is just a speculation, just a thought, just a suggestion. I’m sure lots of other thinking besides that sort of thinking went into the building of this weird and eccentric railway station. (I added the word “more” to my title after first posting this.) But, I think there might be something to this.
Perhaps those Powerful People also hoped that something new and more constructive might be done with the columns, what with the new railway station being built. Maybe such a use was even promised, but later abandoned, for some reasons or other.
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)
I was at Waterloo because my officially designated destination was to check out the state of this view:
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:
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:
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.
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?
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:
And when I got to the top myself, I was keen to photo more of my fellow photoers, and I did:
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.
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:
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:
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.
On Tuesday of this week I did a posting about the view from Docklands ten years ago, which featured a shot of central London taken from one of the Docklands towers. While concocting that posting, I of course looked at other pictures taken from the same spot, on that same photo-expedition. Here is one of those other pictures:
What got my attention in this snap was those bits of stuff, floating on those two flat, floating box/barges? Let’s take a closer look:
Could that perchance be some kind of footbridge? Yes it most definitely could.
Googling “docklands footbridge” and clicking on images soon got me to the bridge that these bits subsequently turned into. It’s the South Quay Footbridge, which is just round the corner from where I snapped its bits. I’ve probably got shots of this bridge that I subsequently took myself, but here are a couple that I quickly found on the www:
On the left is a photo of this bridge that I found at the WilkinsonEyre website, WilkinsonEyre being the guys who designed it. On the right is another shot (which I found here) of the same bridge. Less dramatic, and in a way that wrongly suggests that it is a railway bridge, but making it clear beyond doubt (with its particular view the sticking up bit of the bridge) that this is definitely the bridge I was looking for.
What all this illustrates is that the pictures I take of London contain far more information that I can possibly hope to process straight away. I later spot things. In this particular case, I spot things ten years later.
I definitely intend to seek out this particular bridge and take some photos of it for myself. It’s not a bridge style that I especially care for, with its ungainly non-vertical spike, but I guess it makes quite a bit of structural sense. Maybe I can find an angle that makes it look really good, as some of the other WilkinsonEyre pictures also do, I think.
And while I’m about it, here are some more footbridges, already in place ten years ago, for me to check out:
Finally, my thanks to Michael Jennings for contriving to take me to the top of this tower, which he was able to do because at the time, as I recall, he was working in another part of it.
I’ll end this posting with one of my favourite pictures of Michael, taken on that very same day and in that very same spot, as he looks out across East London – the Victoria Docks, City Airport and beyond – in a pose that suggests that he personally owns at least half of what he is looking at:
Sadly, not. But I still like the picture, which I think is very Ayn Rand heroic.
More pictures of Michael in this posting today at Samizdata.
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:
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.
New, big and impressive bridges have been somewhat rare here, recently. All the great bridges of my time seem to have been done at least a decade ago, or of course longer ago. Very recently, not so much. Financial crisis, I guess. Not so much “infrastructure”.
But, feast your eyes on this (that being a link to a recent posting about it at Dezeen):
Click on that to get it bigger.
The Guardian has more:
Tabiat ("nature") bridge, the largest of its kind in Iran, was architect Leila Araghian’s first project. She designed it five years ago while a student, winning a local competition for a plan to connect two parks separated by a highway in north Tehran.
It was built over two years and was unveiled in late 2014 by Tehran’s mayor, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf. It has since become a popular place for hangouts and morning sports. Last month, as Iranians celebrated an ancient festival of outdoor picnicking, thousands flocked to the bridge.
“I didn’t want it to be just a bridge which people would use to get from one park to another,” said Araghian, who is now 31. “I wanted it to be a place for people to stay and ponder, not simply pass.”
Built on three large pillars, the 270-metre curved structure has broad entrances, multiple pathways and three floors of restaurants and cafes and sitting areas. It was recently named among the winners of the Architizer A+ awards, a global architectural competition based in New York.
I love it when bridges are not just things to go across, but places to be in. London used to have a great example of such a bridge. It should again.
I was very proud of this photo of seven London bridges ...:
… when I first posted it here.
Today I took another photo of these same seven bridges:
I wish this model included Westminster as well as the City, but it’s a model of the City.
I already showed you some Narbonne bridges, snapped during my France expedition. Here are more bridges.
Are these first lot of bridges really bridges, or are they just buildings with holes in the bottom of them to let people through? I reckon these make the cut, but once the buildings start really piling up on top of the holes …?:
I’m doing these bridge photos in sets of three, and next is a clutch of photos of a set of three bridges that connect the town of Ceret to the other side of the local river. Picasso spent time in Ceret, because of the light. (I also photoed Renault Picassos.)
The regular shot of these bridges is from below, as you can see if you click on the second of these photos. But I was with people who were in a hurry, so I only got to photo the bridges from the other bridges, or in one case, the shadow of a bridge, from the bridge. And oh look, photographers!:
In the first of these next three bridge photos, there are three more bridges, by my count. They’re in the seaside town of Collioure. The other two are in Perpignan, where, just like in Quimper (where I have also visited these same friends (G(od)D(aughter)2’s family) – they have houses all over the place), there is a river flowing through the middle of the town with multiple bridges over it.
Finally, here are some rather more modern bridges. First there is one of the main motorway from France to Spain, which carries a lot of lorries.
The motorways of Europe may, I surmise, be the place on earth where robot drivers have their first seriously big impact. Robot cars are too complicated, and to start with, what will be the point of them? But robot lorries will be able to travel a lot faster than regular lorries, for a lot longer than regular lorries, on roads that are the most controlled and predictable roads in existence. European motorways carry colossal amounts of freight, unlike in the USA, where a lot freight goes by train, Europe’s railways being full of passenger trains. And there’s nothing like a sight of this particular motorway, handily shown off by being placed on the side of a mountain in full view of the local and non-charged version of the same road, to see all this.
In the middle below is a hastily snapped shot from a bridge as we drove over it, over a newly constructed high speed passenger railway, again connecting France to Spain. Brand new railways lines have a certain pristine charm, I think, with the gravel under the tracks yet to be blackened by constant use.
Finally, we have what may well be my favourite South of France bridge photo of them all, on the right there. This is one of those unselfconsciously functional footbridges, which more and more abound in towns and cities (London has many such bridges), and which join work spaces off the ground to other work spaces off the ground. This particular footbridge is in Perpignan.
Quite why such bridges, which have long been around, are now proliferating is an interesting question. Maybe it is just that organisations are getting bigger, and demand bigger buildings, and connecting two buildings by a footbridge of this sort turns two buildings into one building, at any rate for certain purposes. If two bureaucracies that live across the road from each other merge, then a bridge joining the top floors together is the logical first managerial step. This allows the new bosses to commune with one another, without having to trundle up and down and across the road all day long, rubbing their shoulders with the unclean shoulders of their underlings. Lower footbridges bridges enable functional specialisation to proliferate among lesser personages.
But, what do I know? My point is, I like such footbridges. And whereas most of the other bridges in this posting are the sort that feature in lots of other people’s photos and in picture postcards, these Brand-X urban footbridges are only a Thing because I say they are. Which is a major purpose of truly good photography. Truly good photography doesn’t just celebrate the already much celebrated; truly good photography offers new objects of potential celebration.
So now I will celebrate this Perpignan footbridge some more:
There are four such bridges in the world.
And the pictures follow: Ponte Vecchio; Krämerbrücke, Erfurt; the Rialto in Venice; Pulteney Bridge in Bath. (The old London Bridge is, alas, no more.)
But then the bit about how there are four such bridges was crossed out, and this was added:
Update: Apparently, there are a few more. Pont des Marchands in Narbonne, France, is one example.
Narbonne? I was in Narbonne only days ago, hearing GodDaughter 2 and her pals sing the solo parts in the Mozart Requiem. Afterwards, we walked beside the river back to the car. Did I, I wonder, photo this Pont des Marchands? I do recall bridges, and I wouldn’t be me if I hadn’t photoed them. Here are a couple of Narbonne bridges, that I photoed then:
So, did the Pont des Marchands figure in my bridge-snapping?
Image google image google.
The Pont des Marchands looks like this:
I had already copied those two bridge pictures above into my FranceMay2016/bridges subdirectory, but in that directory, there was no sign of anything with shops on top of it. However, another look through all the pictures I took in Narbonne that evening brought me to ... this:
The bridge in the front there is the one in the left of the two bridges above. Behind that little footbridge, could that be the Pont des Marchands, seen from the other side? Got to be. Those Ms certainly look encouraging. Short answer, after only a very little more image googling: yes.
There’s nothing quite like seeing something for yourself. And the next best thing is when you photo it without seeing it, and then see later that you did see it after all.
Recently I wrote about footbridges, one in particular, in theatreland. As that posting illustrates, I especially like footbridges that join buildings (in that case theatres), rather than merely convey members of the public who are on a journey through the city, even though I myself cannot cross such bridges, because I too am only a member of the public.
The London epicentre of such footbridge action is situated near Tower Bridge, on the south side of the river. Footbridges of greatly varying heights above the ground and almost beyond counting connect the tall brick buildings on each side of whatever the street is where all these footbridges are to be seen.
I knew that on various journeys along the river I had photoed these bridges, but where were such photos to be found? Oh well, I thought. They’ll turn up.
Last night, they did turn up. I was idling through photo-directories past, looking for something entirely different which I may, or may not, be telling you about Real Soon Now, and suddenly I came across a clutch of photos of the very footbridges I had in mind. I immediately copied all these photos across into the rather recently created Footbridges directory. Photos like this:
None of the photos I took that evening of these bridges were technically very accomplished. The light was tricky and I think I was rather tired by the time I took them. But, there they were, the bridges, and the photos of the bridges.
I chose the above photo from the half dozen or more that I had not because it is the best of these photos, but because it contains this vital piece of information, in writing. Close up:
Le Pont de la Tour? Google google. Apparently it’s a posh eatery, for the kind of posh people who now live in these now very posh buildings. And immediately I had the name of the street.
Don’t ask me how you are supposed to say that. Shad? The Shad? Shad Thames? I don’t know. But there’s the name. Shad. Sounds like Sean Connery saying Sad. (Do you suppose that the reason Sean Connery pronounces S as Sh is because of how Sean is pronounced? Jusht a shuggeshtion.)
Armed with this address, I could pin down exactly as opposed to approximately the location of this footbridge clutch, so that I can return there, and take better photos, and look them up on the www some more, and generally celebrate these striking structures.
And the moral is: when you are (I am) out and about taking photos, always get wherever you are (I am) in writing, by photoing writing. Photo signs of shops, signs outside places, street signs, or, in this case restaurant signs. That way, you can work out where everything was, even years later. The above picture was taken nearly six years ago.
Yesterday I duly climbed to the top of the Big Olympic Thing, but today I want to show you some creature pictures. Having decided to broaden Fridays out from mere cats, to any non-human living thing, I have been wandering through my photo-archives with half an eye for any nice looking non-human photos.
Here are a couple of snaps I particular liked:
These were both taken on a photo-walk that I and G(od)D(aughter) One did in May of 2011. We spent the day walking along Regent’s Canal. I did a couple of postings about this walk at the time, but took many more good snaps than that.
The two birds above are occupants of the Snowdon Aviary. At the end of that link it says that this Aviary contains some “white ibis”, ibis being, apparently, the plural of ibis. Are those things ibis? Could be. I’m hopeless at which brand of bird is which.
The sign, which actually includes a cat, is over an entrance to the footpath beside the canal, from the road. I think. You walk under it, I’m pretty sure.
Strangely, if my photos of the day are anything to go by, we didn’t see many swimming birds that day, in the actual canal. But when we got to Paddington Basin we saw a few.
I often try to photo such birds, but only rarely come away with anything that strikes me as very interesting. The world is, after all, full of extremely Real Photogaphers who like to photo birds. So, what can I add to all that?
These two birds are maybe a bit nice, if not actually what you’d call interesting. The feathers on the one on the left have come out quite well. And the one on the right has an interesting (because pink) beak, which doesn’t look normal to me:
GD1 and I don’t talk much on these walks. We each tend to concentrate on our own photoing. I occasionally photo her from a distance though, with other interesting things (such as bridges) in the background. And occasionally, she photos me:
I like how, in the picture of GD1 photoing me, there is another photographer operating, in the background, on the left as we look.
I am a collector, and a way for me to satisfy this itch without taking up too much physical space is to collect not particular things, but photos of particular things. I collect such photos by finding them in the big wide world, mostly the London bit. But I also find such photos in my already vast but mostly very incoherent collections of photos that I have already taken, stored on my hard disk in directories with titles like “Misc(51)Aug2011”.
Typically, I start collecting a particular sort of photo even before I realise that I am doing it.
Rather recently, for instance, I have started noticing footbridges in a big way, conscious that I am doing this. But in truth, I have always been entertained by footbridges, especially urban footbridges that join buildings together, and have long been photoing them. But the tendency has been, after photoing such a bridge, to forget about it, and to move on immediately to the next photo-op.
Today, while clicking away pretty much at random among my many photo-directories, I came across this photo, in Misc(51)Aug2011:
That particular footbridge connects the back of the Coward Theatre with the back of the Wyndham’s Theatre. I know this because immediately after taking the above photo of the footbridge, taken at 19:58pm, I took the following two snaps, also taken at 19:58pm:
If you look carefully in the footbridge photo, you can see both of these signs, which are on opposite sides of St Martin’s Court, near Leicester Square, in London’s Theatreland. What exactly is transported across this bridge - scenery?, props?, actors? - I do not know. Cleverer and more determined googlers than I could perhaps quickly learn. That these two signs match suggests quite a lot of cooperation, that has been going on for quite a while. Common ownership, perhaps? Sorry about the Wyndham’s photo being so blurry. What matters is that it is legible.
As time passes, I will spend less time out and about taking yet more photos. One of the things I hope then to be doing instead is rootling through my existing photo-collections, collecting, e.g. all the photos I have already taken of footbridges, and putting them into one giant directory, of footbridges, and then showing them here, and thinking about them aloud.
Regular cats have kittens, but this cat is big, and has cubs:
Mick Hartley had a picture of an underpass, at Mick Hartley, today. I went to where that underpass picture came from, to try to understand the underpass picture. I still don’t understand the underpass picture, but I did find the above mega-feline. Rather than reduce the whole picture and lose feline detail, I cranked up the cropper, in square mode (of which I am particularly fond).
More and more, as I browse around in places like dezeen, I come across pictures looking like this:
The this in question being the idea of connecting the tops of towers with footbridges. And that particular picture having been produced to advertise a new scheme for jazzing up Paris.
I love bridges of all kinds, and footbridges just as much as any other sort, so I have been paying attention to such pictures as the above for quite a while now. And I reckon there’s now something of a buzz developing around this idea. Simply, there are about to be a lot of such bridges as those fantasised above, connecting the tops of buildings, and often for the use of the general public, rather than just the people in the buildings directly connected. There will, in some big cities, in only a few years, be entire new alternative worlds at the old roof level, where you will be able to travel for miles without ever touching the regular old ground.
I am now going to scroll down at dezeen, to see if I can find more pictures like the above. Bear with me. …
Well, it took a while. Dezeen has lots of postings about stand-alone little modernist buildings, which, frankly, don’t interest me that much. My feeling about such stand-alones being: we already know how to do those. Modernist versions of big sheds or older school houses are just stylistic tweaking. Nothing profound is going on. But pictures like this …:
… and this …:
… (which I found in this posting, and which I remember being very struck by when I first set eyes on them) tell me that a seriously different urban future will soon be happening, in cities all over the globe.
The underlying story here is that cities are ceasing to be mere machines for living in and for working in, with occasional little spots that tourists will like to visit and have fun in (but which the locals ignore). They are becoming nice experiences. Everyone is becoming a tourist in them, you might say.
Central to this process is the banishment of big old road vehicles, and an alternative emphasis on being a pedestrian. Or even a speeded up pedestrian. Think of how the old dock districts of big cities are being turned into nice new developments with lots of waterside footpaths. Think of what has been happening to canals.
What’s going to happen is that one city – maybe Paris? – will do this in a big way, and tourism, including by the locals, will surge upwards, in the city and on the graphs. People will love it. And then lots of other cities will do it. Including London, because London has a natural pre-skyscraper height at which this will make sense, and because London is now so full of stuff that is worth seeing from this particular height.
A big reason why all this is going to happen is that it will not be all that expensive to do, one of the big reasons why pedestrian footbridges are already a major design flavour the decade being that public money is now tight, and footbridges are relatively cheap. Designers love them, because although footbridges do not involve that much metal or timber or concrete, they do often involve a lot of design.
The picture at the top of this posting has the words “Ternes-Villiers, La Ville Multi-Strate by Jacques Ferrier” attached to it at dezeen, and I just googled those words. And, I immediately found my way to this, here:
It’s not clear from this picture just how public these bridges are intended to be. Other pictures suggest that the “community” able to use these bridges will just be the people who live in the apartment blocks thus connected. But this doesn’t alter the fact that the general public are going to want to get involved in all this high-level fun and sightseeing (and photography), if only because it will all be so clearly visible from below.