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Category archive: Roof clutter

Wednesday November 07 2018

One from the I Just Like It directory:

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That’s the view you get of Central Hall Westminster, that you now get looking over where New Scotland Yard used to be.  I walk past this view whenever I go to St James’s Park tube.  Well, that’s the view you get if you go to as much trouble as I did to frame Central Hall Westminster with a concrete pump.

There is now a glut of new luxury apartments in London, so I suppose it’s possible that this view may become a bit less temporary than it would have been two or three years ago.  But my guess is that Ten Broadway, which (from a helicopter) will look very approximately like this…:

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…, is now too far advanced for it to make sense for them not to finish it.  Although maybe not as ostentatiously as that picture suggests.

Wednesday October 31 2018

This is the third consecutive posting here based on photos I took, two days ago now, while walking from the Angel to Barbican tube.

The reason for the abundance of photos from that walk was the light.  It was a classic London early evening, when the sky above was getting grey and dull, but when there was a gap in the clouds out west, and the sunlight came crashing through that gap horizontally, light a searchlight, picking out random things that were sticking upwards, above the point at which old London stopped going upwards and only new London protrudes.  Not everything doing this got caught in the beam, just some things.  Behind them or next to them there would be objects entirely unlit and already fading fast into darkness.

Things like cranes:

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That’s a fairly conventional photo for me, because the darkening sky is the background, as it often is when I photo evening sunlight crashing into cranes.

But this next one, taken rather later as I neared the Barbican, seemed to me to be something else again:

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I have a kind of check list mentality when judging my own photos.  I have a list of things I like, and the more such things are happening in the photo, the higher the photo scores.  Cranes, tick, with the evening sun hitting them, tick.  Another is interesting architectural silhouettes.  Of such Big Things as the Gherkin, the Walkie Talkier, the Shard, and so on.  And although those Barbican towers are not the prettiest Things in London by a long way, their silhouettes are distinctive, because of that saw tooth effect you get at the sides.  I also like the understated roof clutter there.

Sunday October 07 2018

If I had a pound for every time someone’s told me that they like to photo The Wheel from Tottenham Court Road, I wouldn’t have any more pounds than I already have, because it’s just me that likes to do this.  But, I really like it.

I’m talking about photos like this one:

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Great light there, don’t you think?  It could be an oil painting.  Exactly as it came out of the camera, no Photoshop(clone)ing.  That dates from April of 2015.  As you can see, that weird entrance to Tottenham Court Road Tube station was still under construction.

Here’s a couple more, taken in 2016 …:

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... and in 2017:

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That crane there should have told me that something ominous was in the works, but actually I was taken by surprise.

Take a look at what the same scene looked like today:

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That’s right.  The Wheel is about to blotted out of this particular picture.

I moved nearer, which moved the top of the Wheel down to the bottom gap in the structure:

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I took a final close up:

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And that may well be the last time that I ever photo The Wheel from Tottenham Court Road.

Saturday October 06 2018

On Thursday September 27th, I photoed a leaning crane, from the top of the John Lewis Roof Garden.  But that wasn’t all I photoed.  Of course not.  I wouldn’t go to a spot like that and take just the one photo.

A few more views:

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My usual preoccupations.  Big Things.  Cranes (including window cleaning cranes).  Roof clutter.  Scaffolding.

Can you spot Big Ben?  Clue: scaffolding.

Thursday October 04 2018

Yesterday I attended a Master Class at the Royal College of Music, in which five singing students, GodDaughter 2 among them, were publicly instructed by distinguished tenor and vocal teacher Dennis O’Neil.  It was fascinating.  He spent most of the time focussing on the art that conceals art, which meant that I couldn’t really understand what he was saying.  The minutiae of sounds and syllables, and of where the sound comes from, in the head or in the body.  All like a foreign language to me, but it was fascinating to expand the range of my ignorance, so to speak.  I am now ignorant about a whole lot more than I was.

This all happened way down at the bottom of the RCM, in the Britten Theatre (which you go down to get into but the theatre itself stretches up to the top again), On the way back up the numerous stairs to the street level entrance, I saw, through a very grubby window, and photoed, this:

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Okay the window is indeed very grubby, but, you know, how about that?  All that roof clutter, buried in the middle of the College.  Although, I think that this particular clutter is part of Imperial College, which is next door.

Backstage architecture, you might say.

The Royal College of Music is as amazing an accumulation of architectural chaos as I have ever experienced.  It must take about half of your first year to learn where everything is, and years later you are probably still getting surprises.  I never knew this was here!  Etc.

That corridor made of windows, bottom left, with the light in it, is something I have several times walked along, to a canteen or a bar or some such thing, I think.  By which I mean that I think I have walked along it, but that this could be quite wrong.  Like I say: architectural chaos.  I took a look at the place in Google Maps 3D, but I still have only the dimmest Idea of where I was on the map.

The night before, I was at the Barbican Centre, also for some music, and that’s almost as architecturally chaotic as the inside of the RCM.  But there, they don’t have the excuse that the architectural chaos accumulated over about a century of continuous improvisation.  At the Barbican, the chaos was all designed and built in one go.

Friday September 21 2018

The high point, literally, of the expedition that GodDaughter2 and I made to Kew Gardens back in August was our exploration of the Great Pagoda. 

From the top of the Great Pagoda, you can see the Big Things of Central London.  But what the Great Pagoda itself looks like is also worth examining.

Here is an early view we had of it:

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And here is how it looked when we got closer:

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The Daily Mail describes the Great Pagoda as Britain’s First Skyscraper.

Now look how it looked when we got closer still:

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So, what are those sticky-outy things on the corners of each sticky-outy roof?

That’s right, dragons.  And we’re not talking merely inflated dragons.  These are solid looking and scary.  You couldn’t kill these dragons with a mere pin prick, and you wouldn’t dare to try.

Most of the Great Pagoda dragons look like this:

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We discovered when we got there that the recent restoration of this Great Pagoda had, only a few weeks before our visit, been completed.  We got very lucky with that.

Read more about these dragons, and about the Pagoda that they now guard, in this Guardian report.

This Great Pagoda, London’s very first Big Thing, was built by Sir Wiiliam Chambers in 1762.  The dragons were a feature of the original Pagoda, but in 1784 they were removed.  Being made of wood, and following a burst of wet weather, they had started to rot.

Wikipedia says that Kew Gardens was adopted as a national botanical garden in 1840.  Would that be when the Pagoda was opened to the general public?  Whenever exactly that was, Kew Gardens and the Great Pagoda have been what we now call visitor attractions for quite a while now.

During World War 2, the Great Pagoda was used to test bombs.  You can still see one of the holes they made in all the floors, to allow the bombs to fall.  Keeping that for everyone to see now is a nice touch, I think.

Kew Gardens contains lots of greenery, and green stuff on sticks.  What do they call those things?  Trees.  Kew Gardens has lots and lots of trees, of many different brands.

So, on the left here, the hole in the floor.  On the right there, the seat made from many trees:

imageimageimageimageimage

And in the middle, the seat, seen through the hole.

But back to those dragons.  The old rotting dragons have now been almost entirely replaced by 3D printed dragons, which look solid but which are actually far lighter than the old-time originals.

On the lowest roof, right near the ground, there was a different sort of dragon, which looked like this:

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I wonder what the story was of that one, for there did indeed seem to be only one such blue dragon.  Had the original plan been to make all the dragons like that one?  But did its structural weakness cause them to abandon that plan, and go with the other darker green dragon with its scary red tongue, and with its rather more solid wings?  Don’t know, but whatever the story is, the winning dragon design is pretty good also.

Everything about how the Great Pagoda looks, inside as well as its exterior, says: class.  This is a visitor attraction that I warmly recommend.  There is no lift, not originally of course, and not now, but the steps, although quite numerous, are at a comfortably mild angle - rather than, say, like the ones in the Monument.  Even better, each flight of steps you go up causes you to reach another actual floor, of the sort you can stand on, with windows looking outwards.  So, oldies like me can go up two floors, say, and then have a comfortable breather, without blocking anyone else on the stairs.  If we are on the right floor, we can even use that multi-treed seat (see above).

The weather on the day that GD2 and I visited Kew Gardens was not perfect.  The dragons look rather dark and menacing in my photos.  But that look works, I think.  And as days out go, this day out was pretty much perfect.

Saturday September 15 2018

I was summoned to Chateau Samizdata (which is in South Kensington these days) for lunch today, which meant that when I walked past that Bartok statue at lunchtime today, the light was behind me, rather than in front of me and behind Bartok.

So I was able to have another go at photoing him:

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But with rather mixed results.  The change in lighting made a lot less difference than I had been hoping.

I spent the late afternoon and the evening (a) doing stuff at home, and (b) keeping track of the climaxes of two competitions, this one, which was won by pianist Eric Lu, and this one, which was won by the Worcestershire cricket team.  Which means Worcestershire have had a mixed season, having also been relegated from Division One of the County Championship.  It was like them winning the FA cup but also getting relegated from the Premier League.  However, getting relegated from Division One of the Country Championship makes far less financial difference than dropping out of the Premier League.  So Worcester are probably now pretty happy.  Counties doing well in one format but badly in another is quite frequent.  They all say that, of course, they want to win everything.  But in reality, they prioritise this and neglect that.

Tonight, Radio 3 played the last two Leeds Piano Competition concerto performances, the three others having been played last night.  I will be checking out the performance of Beethoven 1 from last night, because, while they were waiting for them to pick the various prize winners, they played part of a chamber music performance by the guy who had played Beethoven 1, which sounded excellent.  Also, this guy came second in the overall competition, so he’s pretty good.

Tonight’s Beethoven 4, from winner Lu, was excellent, albeit somewhat more subdued than I think Beethoven had in mind when he composed this piece.  Lu’s was a very “private” performance of what was actually, I think, written as a rather public piece (about private feelings).  But that’s very much a matter of (my) opinion.  Given what Lu was doing, he did it very well.  Besides which, who would want all concerto performances to sound the same?  Beethoven might have been surprised by Lu’s delicate and subtle performance, but that doesn’t mean he’d have minded.  On the contrary, he would probably be amazed and delighted that people were still playing the thing at all.

Tonight’s other concerto, the Schumann, was similar in artistic intention to Lu’s Beethoven 4, but to my ear it involved a few too many wrong notes.  The Radio 3 commentators didn’t mention these wrong notes, but I don’t think I imagined them.  I think they chose to ignore them.

Bartok wrote three Piano Concertos, each very fine in their contrasting ways.  None of these were played in the final of the Leeds Piano Competition.

LATER: I’ve just been listening to another county game, just started on Sept 18th, and I realise that the piece I linked to about Worcester getting relegated was dated 2015.  Theoretically, they could still avoid relegation this year.  But they’re not going to.  They’ve just been bowled out for 94 by Essex, and they are about thirty points shy of safety, with Yorks and Lancs both having to cock it up big time for them to escape.  As it is, Worcs and Lancs both look doomed to the trop.  But, in theory, Worcs are still in with a chance of avoiding this.

I am very sorry to have misled you, in the unlikely event that I did, and that you care.

Saturday September 08 2018

Earlier in the week, on my way to St James’s Park tube, and again on my way back home from St James’s Park tube, I photoed what I described to Google as a “concrete pump”.

This concrete pump was helping to build a clutch of apartment blocks where the old New Scotland Yard used to be, before New Scotland Yard moved to a new New Scotland Yard, back where the original Scotland Yard used once to be.

I got enough images to suggest that a “concrete pump” is indeed what this extraordinary contraption is, but not enough to suggest that I had named the contraption correctly, using the preferred words of those who deploy it.

Nevertheless, enjoy.  I did, especially the close-ups of the joints.

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All this, just to be able to squirt concrete from a lorry into a hole.  (I’m guessing, from the invisibility of building action behind all the solid fences, that his concrete was for the foundations.  This being where concrete, as opposed to steel on its own, still seems to be essential.) And with a big long arm like that one, with all its joints, I’m guessing it can reach all sorts of complicated and out-of-the-way spots.  (If you guess that I do a lot of guessing when I see something like this, then you guess right.)

There must be a reason why they don’t use a flexible tube, but have to make do with a rigid tube, but with the occasional rotating joint.  So elaborate are those joints that they end up looking biological rather than merely mechanical.  So, as with the previous posting, also about technology rather than biology, I have categorised this posting as, among other things, “other creatures”.  (I’ve also added “sculpture” to the category list.  Does regular sculpture come any better than this?  Sometimes maybe, but not very often.)

The concrete itself must be a marvel of blending and general wonderfulness.  Able to travel as a near-liquid along this elaborate pipe, under (guess) great pressure (another guess: that’s why the pipe has to be made of metal rather than of something bendier), but then able, at exactly the right time, to solidify in the deep cylindrical holes into which it is squirted.  At which point it has to stay solid for ever.  (Is something added, at the critical moment, to make it solidify?)

There is much that is very wrong with the world.  This sort of stuff is what is very right with the world.

A concrete pump?
Pimlico roof clutter
A new Big Thing alignment as seen from the Oval
A view from the Shard
Orange umbrellas in Lower Marsh
Uncluttered French train roofs
A photo-rumination on French rail clutter
Quota cloud
Big Thing Alignment with an appropriate slogan in the foreground
One Kemble Street and the ME Hotel Radio Bar photoed from the Royal Festival Hall
The Peak and its window cleaning crane
Hammersmith - cranes - sunset
Here are some I took earlier
Weird Piccadilly photos today
Another crowd scene
South Kensington roof clutter
Creature photos
Up on the roof
The light and the lights of Victoria Station
A better photo of One Kemble Street
A good day
Cathedral dwarfed by modernity
One Kemble Street and its roof clutter as seen from the ROH floating bar
Flypast photo
London is being Benidormed
Victoria chimney cluster
Burlington Arcade (with roof clutter)
Around Tower Bridge – July 2014
Window cleaning cranes in Victoria
Views from London Fields
Beltane & Pop van parked on the South Bank yesterday afternoon
New River Walk
Chronicle Tower and its roof (and window-cleaning crane)
Two sunsets and two London towers
Men on Gherkin
To Tottenham (6): The Spurs Shop
Merry Christmas from the Pilot Store (and from me)
Fog in Victoria
Early dusk
Roof clutter on my roof and from my roof
More birds on a TV aerial
Another TV aerial
Pigeons on a TV aerial
Not a shot tower – no longer a pumping station tower
Photoing Tate Modern from the Oval and the Oval from Tate Modern
Centre Point and surroundings as seen from the top of the Tate Modern Extension
David Hockney comes to Pimlico
Bridge in Germany with houses on it
More photos from last Friday
Another London Big Thing alignment
The hottest day of the year (4): An antique view from Waterloo
The draw that turned out not to be
Bird – and bird close up
Photoers photoing the views from the Tate Modern Extension
Views from the new Tate Modern Extension
The new US Embassy – from my roof
South of France electronic clutter
Bird takes off from a TV aerial
The difference between roof clutter and roof clutter
Spring
Today I am checking out the Big Olympic Thing
Photo of Mountbatten on Sea Containers House
Barcelona owl
Looking across Vincent Square
Avian Friday
Rain on netting
Stairs
Dark Satanic Millbank Tower
Rainbow over Millbank
Brightly lit against a dark background
A couple of old squares
Leaves
The light outside the Proud Archivist on the evening of July 22nd
Sunlight (selectively) on roof clutter
Light
The view from outside Waterloo Station
Blue sky
Why I mostly write about architectural design rather than about interior design
Along the river towards Battersea
More Big Olympic Thing photos
Snohetta does zig zag roofs for competitive cities
Viewing the clutter at Centre Point
Made-up London detectives in real London places
Fantastic day
Quota scaffolding and quota roof clutter
A weird view of the Wheel - and cats in Tiger
Views from Waterloo Bridge
Posting difficulties so see you tomorrow
French roof clutter
I’m an adjective!
To Covent Garden (2): Rough roofs – smooth roof
Quota roof clutter
Quota towers
Roof party
Parisian roof clutter gets the Real Photographer treatment
Big Things through a gasometer
Sacred architecture and profane roof clutter - a speculation
Big Things from high up at the Oval
Two badly lit views of “Victoria Tower” and why Big Ben is not St Stephen’s Tower or Elizabeth Tower
Camel
The ROH from the ME Rooftop Bar
Three more Paris pictures
Eiffel Tower with chimney pots – La Défense ditto
More photos of things past
Sunrise from my roof
My own personal Big Thing viewing platform with close-up Roof Clutter
Here are two photos I took earlier
Another picture from yesterday
Quota clutter
Is this the beginning of the end of the Golden Age of Roof Clutter?
Shard with roof clutter and a crane
Blank-faced tower – crazy hairdo
Rooftops
Wheel clear - Wheel in cloud
Strata behind roof clutter
Misc March
Someone doesn’t understand what I mean by roof clutter
In Alicante
London cricket roof clutter
As found roof sculpture
Victorian roof clutter
Getting that roof clutter onto my computer