Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Brian Micklethwait on Miguel aligns his message with his van
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Brian Micklethwait on Tate Modern is now fighting with its neighbours about privacy
Michael Jennings on Cyclists
Michael Jennings on Tate Modern is now fighting with its neighbours about privacy
Brian Micklethwait on Tate Modern is now fighting with its neighbours about privacy
Michael Jennings on Tate Modern is now fighting with its neighbours about privacy
Patrick Crozier on Cyclists
Brian Micklethwait on M20 bridge destroyed by passing digger
rob on M20 bridge destroyed by passing digger
Most recent entries
- Matt Ridley on how (fracking) technology lead science
- The wonderful things they’re doing with plastics nowadays
- The Big Parliament Tower and the Shard as seen from the Westminster Cathedral Tower
- 240 Blackfriars behind some reinforced concrete that is being demolished
- John Croft: Composition is not research
- The cuddly killer
- Strand Palace Hotel footbridge
- Harley Davidson - woman playing gramophone records
- Wooden Citroens and black baby dolls
- Brittany lighthouses
- Citroen correction
- When the people are the Art
- Ghost Bus
- Cats don’t smile
- Just the top of the BOT … but still instantly recognisable
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Category archive: Bridges
Recently I came upon another for the collection:
This is a footbridge at the back of the Strand Palace Hotel. I could find nothing about this footbridge on the www, but luckily I had already taken the precaution of asking someone local, just after I had taken my photos. This local was entering an office in the same street with the air of doing this regularly, and who therefore seemed like someone who might know. And he did. What about that bridge? - I asked him.
Yes, he said. That used to be the bridge that conveyed the servants from the Strand Palace Hotel, on the left in the above photo, to the servants quarters, which is what the dwellings on the right in my photo, behind the scaffolding, used to be. These servants quarters had, quite a while back, been turned into mere quarters, for regular people to live in. So, the bridge then got blocked off at the right hand end as we here look at it. But, the bridge continued to be used by the Strand Palace Hotel as an elongated cupboard. These old servants quarters are now being turned into luxury flats, which is why the scaffolding. But the bridge stays.
That the original purpose of the bridge was to convey servants, as opposed to people, is presumably why the bridge has no windows. Wouldn’t want to see servants going to and fro, would we. Fair dos, actually. A hotel of this sort – this one being just across the Strand from the Savoy - is a lot like a theatre, and the point of a theatre is not to see all the backstage staff wandering hither and thither. So, I do get it. And I doubt the servants minded that there were no windows. I bet they minded lots of other things, but not that.
I will now expand on the matter of the exact location of this obscure footbridge. As you can see from the square to the right, it is in Exeter Street, London WC2. I took other photos of this Exeter Street street sign, because I have a rule about photoing information about interesting things that I photo, as well as photoing the interesting thing itself, which is that I do. Sometimes, as on the day I took this photo, I even follow this rule. But I thought I’d try extricating a detail from the above photo, and see how I did. I blew the original up to maximum size, and sliced out a rectangle, tall and thin, with the street name in it. I then expanded (see the first sentence of this paragraph) what I had, sideways, lightened it, contrasted it, sharpened it, blah blah blah, and I think you will agree that the result is unambiguous. My point here is (a): Exeter Street, WC2, and (b): that such photomanipulation is not merely now possible. My point (b) is that it is now very easy. Even I can do all of this photomanipulation, really quickly and confidently.
I can remember when the only people who could work this sort of magic were spooks in movies, and then a bit later, detectives on the television.
Talking of spookiness, I included the surveillance camera in that little detail. In London, these things are now everywhere. Because of my sideways expanding of the photo, this camera looks like it sticks out more than it really does.
And in other bridge news …
I earlier linked to a Dezeen report which reported:
But now comes this:
The more appealing the bridge, the more of a muddle its opening is liable to be, so this is not a particularly terrible thing. This bridge, for instance, has opening problems because many more people than they expected want to walk upon it:
Thousands flocked to the attraction when it opened on 20 August 2016, but less than two weeks later its popularity has led to its closure.
The bridge is designed to hold up to 800 people and receive up to 8,000 visitors in a day, however demand has far outstripped capacity.
“We’re overwhelmed by the volume of visitors,” a spokesperson from the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon’s marketing department told CNN.
The spokesperson said that 80,000 visitors had attempted to visit the bridge each day, leading to its closure for improvement works on 2 September 2016.
There are no reports of when the attraction will reopen.
Whenever. There’s nothing as cheap as a hit. Especially if your target demographic is: China. And then, when the word gets around, which the above story will hugely help it to: The World.
Nowadays, footbridges tend only to spring to life and to try to be entertaining to walk across, rather than just functional, when water is involved. But as the world’s economy slows and big new bridge projects become scarcer, I believe we can expect many more smaller and hitherto more mundane bridges to be similarly “designed” rather than just built. Like this one in Beersheba, which is over some railway tracks.
I’m actually rather surprised that this kind of thing doesn’t happen more often:
The story is that a lorry with a digger on the back of it drove under a bridge, but the digger hit the bridge and broke half of the bridge off so that it fell on the road below, or to be more exact, onto another lorry, also going under it at the time. A motorcyclist was nearly killed, but wasn’t.
Cranes helped to clean up the mess:
One of the scarier things about all this, if I understand what has happened correctly, is that half the bridge is still sticking out over the motorway, and traffic is even now passing underneath it:
Is that right? And if that is right, is that .. you know … right?
So far as I can tell, though, this is not a glass bridge, more a metal bridge with lots of windows in its floor, which I don’t think is the same thing. But, it’s still a step in the right direction, towards the day when they build a bridge entirely out of glass.
So I did something I haven’t done recently. I went to BLDGBLOG, and right at the bottom of this posting, which consists of a collection of weird photos that aren’t quite photos but are something else somewhat similar, I found this classic bridge:
But that isn’t the picture at BLDGBLOG. I went looking for another, and found it here.
I like bridges, and I especially like bridges with buildings on them, buildings which don’t match, like the bridge is just a street rather than a single unified structure all designed and built at one time.
I also very much like the look of the picture at the top of this posting. which, for reasons I do not understand, is entitled “Critical Engineering Summer Intensives”, but which ought to be entitled “When Roof Clutter Catches Fire”.
Recently a friend told me that you can see the Big Things of London from the grounds outside the Horniman Museum. The place is a walk away from Forest Hill station, so today, I checked this out. You can. I did. Picture:
Somewhere on the www there must be a complete list of all such places. But every list of these places that I have ever seen excludes at least one Big Thing watching place that I personally know of.
I could go on, but the last few postings here have been rather complicated, so I am keeping this one simple.
The category list includes “Bridges” because away to the right, you can see the tops of Tower Bridge.
Yesterday here featured a photo (of a photographer photoing a new marriage) which all happened on the Millennium Bridge. Today’s photo is of the Millennium Bridge, with three boats all within a few yards of it, as seen from the viewing gallery at the top of the new Tate Modern Extension:
Although I promise nothing, I hope to show more snaps snapped from this most excellent vantage point here, in the nearish future.
One day, I will collect together all the photos I have from over the years, of … this kind of thing:
I love it when Asians get married and have a photoshoot to celebrate, in London. Quite when and where they get married, I don’t know, but this is definitely a Thing that they love to do. I took the above photo this afternoon. On a bridge. With a Big albeit Ancient Thing in the background. Weird reflections.
And because they are making such a spectacle of themselves, and doing it so very delightfully, I feel it’s okay to put my photo of one of these photoshoots here.
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.
LATER: Actually, what I am now realising is that there used to be three disembodied rows of red columns, but that the right hand row as we look got swallowed up in a widened version of the original bridge. My pictures show this rather well, which is why I finally noticed.
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.