Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Architecture

Monday November 24 2014

A common complaint about modern architecture is that it is “faceless”.  Tending not to feature single separate windows, but rather showing a bland expanse of featureless outsideness to the world, modernistical buildings do not allow the viewing human to see what the viewing human always wants to see, faces, turning the windows into eyes, doors into mouths, and so forth.

But there is no problem with seeing faces in this building, in Rome, because someone has painted twenty seven faces on it, with the windows being – what else? - eyes:

The pieces utilizes nearly 50 windows to create the mouths and eyes of some 27 bizarre faces all vying for attention.

image

Although, I see that two of the windows there are mouths.

It all looks a bit graffitiish to me, although as this lady says, this is “artful, thoughtful graffiti”. (In other words the kind of thing that favourite-blogger-of-mine Mick Hartley likes to photo.) And I think it’s a bit of a shame to do this to an old building, rather than to a new one.  But if the alternative is for this old building to just continue crumbling, then this is surely better.  I’m sure it is already a tourist attraction.  It would definitely attract me.

But, I look forward to the day when buildings like this one get decked out with lots of different colours (that being another Mick Hartley photo).

Tuesday November 18 2014

I was in Paris in the freezing February of 2012, and while there, on the coldest day of the lot, I visited an amazing exhibition of Relief Maps.  Thank googleness for the internet, because instead of having to explain this, I can just give you the link, and let you learn as much or as little about this event as you want to.

Here is the photo:

image

I can’t remember how exactly all the things that you see there came to look the way they do in that photo, but I’m pretty sure that a big mirror was involved, and also the glass of the big case that this map was in.  I can say with absolute certainty that no Photoshop(clone)ing is involved.

The big near-white thing in the middle is a map, on the floor, of France.

Go to the very middle of the picture, and then across a bit to the left and then down a bit, and you will see: me.  Wearing a scarf indoors, as was everyone else.

Saturday November 15 2014

Classic photo of photoers (which I found here):

image

It’s the new see through walkway at the top of Tower Bridge.  All the reportage concentrates on what you can see looking down through it.  But when I visit, I am going to check out what you can see photoing through it from below.  Which will have the added benefit of being far cheaper.

Zoom lenses are rather good these days.

And guess what, I actually want other people to have the same idea, so I can photo them photoing upwards also.

Monday November 10 2014

A new student accommodation building is currently being erected on the far side of Westminster Bridge from me, i.e. next to the equally rotund hotel in the middle of the roundabout there.

There is a rule in architecture (which I just made up), which says that if you build a very big and very boring lump, but put another very big and very boring lump of the same shape next to it, the result can be quite pleasing.  Think Twin Towers.  They seem to be following this rule here.

I have been photoing the erection of this erection ever since erection began.  Here are two of my latest snaps of it, taken last Friday.  The picture on the right was taken from right next to the little roadside sign that you see on the bottom right of the picture on the left.

image image

It’s hard not to interpret that two dimensional picture as three dimensional, I think you will agree.  After all, the real building above the sign is also only a picture, in my pictures, and that looks suitably three dimensional, even though, in my pictures, it is actually every bit as flat as that sign is.

Subtitle for the photo above left: This is not a building.  Subtitle for the photo above right: These are not buildings.

Sunday November 09 2014

Those Tower of London Poppies are causing quite a stir, with politicians of all parties, and people too, saying they ought to stay there longer, beyond Remembrance Sunday (today), beyond 11am on Tuesday, and maybe as long as Nov 11th 2018, so as many people as want to can get to see them.

I’ve checked them out twice myself, and took many photos of the sort that are presumably now tsunaming all over cyberspace.  I already mentioned these Poppy trips in passing, in this and in this and in this, but this is the first Poppy Posting here that is specificallly about The Poppies, hence the number in the title.

Here are a few of my “what it looks like” snaps (click to get them larger):

image image image
image image image
image image image

What these snaps of mine don’t show (although 2.1 and 2.3 hint at it) is the panoramic hugeness of it all.  For that I turn to Goddaughter 2, who accompanied me on my first Poppies visit.

She had her mobile phone with her, which has an app for taking extremely wide photos.  By combining these two snaps …:

image image

… she arrived at this:

image

That is about two thirds of it.  You can see all of it only in pictures like this one

I can entirely see why thousands upon thousands of people have wanted to come and gaze at these Poppies, because the effect is very striking, and the vast scale seems entirely appropriate.  There is one poppy for each British soldier who died, the Britishness of the poppies being the excuse for the Guardian to have a go at it all, in such postings as this one and this one.  But if I was French or German or Turkish and I saw this huge spread of poppies in London, I don’t think I’d feel that my dead ancestors were being dissed in any way.  And actually, I think I did hear quite a few foreign languages being spoken when I visited.  I mean, why wouldn’t a nation mourn its own dead?  I didn’t feel any resentment, when I recently visited a French graveyard with lots of war dead in it, that the ancestors of me and my fellow countrymen were being omitted from the story, any more than I do when I chance upon a war memorial in England with only local local names on it.  Why would I? 

The odd thing is, my two personal sets of ancestors had no WW1 deaths in them, or not one that anyone in my particular little family ever talked about.  This was not because of any general reluctance to talk about such things.  In WW2, we lost my mum’s older and only brother, Uncle John, and that was talked about every now and then, as were the two uncles who fought in WW2 and survived.  But stories about my ancestors in WW1?  Nothing.  I’m guessing this is a bit unusual.

Friday November 07 2014

The way to photo “iconic” buildings is to muck around with them.  You can’t just stick up your basic passport photos of them, so to speak, because everyone’s seen that, even the foreigners.

You have to put your iconic building next to something else, perhaps iconic in a different way ...:

image image

… or, you bounce your IB off a non-iconic building covered in slightly bendy glass.

Or you photo it through a Riverside Thing …:

image image

… or behind an Iconic Bridge (the one that wobbled (see the posting immediately below)).

Or you put something else in front of it, like a photographer, and have the IB itself behind and way out of focus.

image image

That works fine because the whole point of an IB is that you can recognise it even if it is ridiculously blurry, the way you never could a regular building.

Or, you photo it on the screen of another photographer, perhaps even a bald bloke photographer.  I am now collecting bald bloke photographers, and believe me, the species is now very abundant.  And by the way, if you click and look at bit carefully, you can see that the bald bloke had the same idea as me about photoing the reflected version of the Shard, rather than just the Thing itself:

image image

As the autumn light fades, the screens of other photographers shine ever more brightly.  (LATER: And, on the right there, I see cranes.)

I picked those four snaps of snappers entirely because I liked them.  But, they are all pictures of snappers using their mobile phones.  Mobile phone cameras are getting better and better.  But of course.  I mean, would they be getting worse?

But having said all that, I do like this:

image

No frills, no complications, just the top of the IB itself, with a bit of orange light from somewhere.

All of the above photos were taken on my way to and from the Tower of London, about tendays ago, to see all those poppies.

LATER: How in the world could I possibly have failed to include, in this, this?

image

Shard on camera screen, and poppies.  But, this time, a clunky old camera camera rather than a mobile phone camera.

Thursday November 06 2014

This sounds dramatic:

The area below London’s 737ft landmark ‘Cheese Grater’ skyscraper has been condoned off, after two metre-long steel bolts broke.

Earlier in the week, one bolt slid from the nineteenth of the slanted building in the City of London but remained in place. But another broke off from the fifth floor yesterday and part of it hit the ground.

The word “floor” (after “nineteenth") has presumably slid from that first sentence there.

Let’s hope it’s only a wobble.

The buildings contractor, Laing O’Rourke, and its structural engineers, Arup, have launched an investigation to ensure the building’s remaining bolts are safe.

Arup were the engineers who presided over that wobbly bridge.  That all ended well.  The bridge looks great, and it never now wobbles.  Let’s hope something very similar applies to the Cheesegrater.

A while back I predicted that sooner or later there is going to be a big skyscraper collapse, probably in China.  Wouldn’t want to be proved right about the skyscraper collapse bit, but wrong about the country.

LATER: See also at Dezeen:

In a statement, British Land confirmed that two bolts had broken but said there is “no risk to the structural integrity of the building”.

The answer to the obvious question, but still slightly scary.

Friday October 31 2014

First, what’s going on in this picture?  What’s weird about it?  How did I contrive the weirdness?:

image

Hint: One of the categories for this posting is “Computer graphics”.  Another hint: I like reflections.

Second, what’s the Feline Friday connection in this photo, taken earlier this week outside the Tower of London?

image

Hint: There is also a clue to this one in the categories list.

If nobody else supplies the answers, I will!  Only by refusing to read these answers will you be able to escape them.

Friday photo-puzzles
Bald bloke taking a photo
Battersea flats are about to be sold and therefore are about to be built
The “colorful and curvilinear forms” of Herr Hundertwasser
How Bill Bryson on white and black paint helps to explain the Modern Movement in Architecture
I just like it
Recently on dezeen
Helter Skelter scrapped
Another facade being carefully preserved
Chippendale without Rannie
Keeping up appearances
Quota towers
Roof party
Godo and flowers
A birthday party with difficult lighting
Bright buildings in front of dark sky
The ballerina and her support act
Out and about in the sunshine
Brutalism with shirts
A tumult of cranes (and the Spraycan)
Parisian roof clutter gets the Real Photographer treatment
A swimming pool in a skyscraper
Big Things through a gasometer
The view from Stave Hill
Man 3D-prints Thing in his back garden
Oxo Tower with bus advertising The Expendables III
Smaller Old Thing in front of Big New Things
ASI Boat Trip 8: Bridges
Palestra
The River Thames carpet
Sacred architecture and profane roof clutter - a speculation
ASI Boat Trip 6: Crowd scenes
Self-healing concrete
Quota bird
My favourite Tour de France in London photo
Quota reflection
Colossal fun
More Big Things from the Oval
Big Things from high up at the Oval
ASI boat trip - one good photo to be getting along with
Big Things in the sunset
You need to have abseiled …
What to call the sneerquote Salesforce /sneerquote tower? (plus a quite profound tangent)
What is this Thing?
Photographer photoing photographer photoing Big Ben
3D printed structural joints and another Gormley man
Up the river
Quota photos of and from Tate & Lyle Park
Compact Cats buried under London’s poshest homes
Another London vista
Strata with greenery and a scaffolding sign
Tower Bridge before it got covered in stone
Wedding photos
Building as ornament
I don’t know which building this is but it sure looks fine in the sunset
I see cats
Two skyscrapers joined by a bridge that is a swimming pool
The London Look
Lining up the Strata with the Shard
Organised water
Big buildings reflected in a big building
Shell Building looking good (and why it’s okay to say you like a picture that you yourself took)
Big Things in line and an Ugly Lump that may have made it all possible
Pictures of soon-to-be-built London Big Things
National Theatre Boo
Vauxhall bus station now – and when it was being constructed
Battersea park in the sky
Premier League soccer news
Two badly lit views of “Victoria Tower” and why Big Ben is not St Stephen’s Tower or Elizabeth Tower
The Mayor and the towers
Another strange artificial landscape
Libeskind doing the saw cut style in Ontario
Other things last Wednesday
Under Blackfriars Bridge
Me trying to tell Norman Foster and Richard Rogers apart
South Bank Architects?
Vladivostock from above
Faberge - Brutalism
The ROH from the ME Rooftop Bar
Big Things happening in the City
Seven London bridges from the ME Hotel Radio Bar
Strata quota photo
ME Hotel Radio Rooftop Bar
London’s Big Things from Alexandra Palace
Church really dwarfed by modernity
Three more Paris pictures
Eiffel Tower with chimney pots – La Défense ditto
Big Thing news from New York and London - and a picture of climate alarmism losing
Sandcastles that will live for ever
Spraycan seen through the Wheel
Dencity
The Tate Modern extension nears completion
Digital photography as telepathy
Ice sculptures in Docklands – Big Things from Docklands
Battersea crane cluster
Upside down photo
Westminster Tube photos
3D printer sighted!
Old London photos
Model Big Things
I’m not the only one who suffers from rightward lean
Big Things on a better day
Big Things and small things
Taking photos with Big Flat Things
More photos of things past
Polish girls in Moscow doing a selfie
Dezeen continues to delight
Bizarre reflection (December 6th 2006)
I need to photo this again
Sunrise from my roof
Early start tomorrow
Wedding photography - old and new
A vanished building and a bendy bus
The Heron Tower restaurant
My own personal Big Thing viewing platform with close-up Roof Clutter
Here are two photos I took earlier
Cranes seen through Cardinal Place
The roof of Victoria Station
Twisted picture from Burgess Park (untwisted with Photoshop Elements)
Battersea sunset
Morgan – Abbey reflected in Morgan – Abbey reflected in other cars
Bad and good in bad weather
The Walkie Talkie and its surroundings
Art gallery made of scaffolding
Photoing each other - and photoing stuff in the canal
Chess set made of London’s Big Things
A day in and around Olympicland with Goddaughter One
Chicago sunset
Bridges for animals
Is this the beginning of the end of the Golden Age of Roof Clutter?
Shard with roof clutter and a crane
Views from Kings College
Blank-faced tower – crazy hairdo
An old Mini and a new Mini
Rooftops
A scaffolder likes Jeremy Clarkson
Stairs Thing outside St Paul’s
Views from the Hackney Wick station footbridge
Pictures from Georgia and Warsaw
Big Things blocked by the trees of Southwark Park
Wedding photography (4): Preparations
Wembley Arch with balloons and with umbrellas
Hong Kong housing that looks like abstract art
Remembering a warmer day
Blythe Hill Fields: What what you can see from them and what they look like
Wandering about afterwards
Crossrail grubbings
Piano strikes the right note again
Four crane photos
Panoramic view of London from the top of the BT Tower
Alastair James on Blythe Hill Fields and smartphones
Talking architecture at the Libertarian Home social
At the bottom of the Shard
Reflections on and in Westminster Tube Station
Strata with chimneys
Big London Things with clutter in the foreground
New crane up
An afternoon in Croydon
Here are (a lot) more photos that I took on March 27th
Interwar Old English pub dwarfed by modernity
Click to see the big picture
Waterloo sunset with vapour trails
The Bezier Building and a hideous advertising erection at the Old Street Roundabout
Strata behind roof clutter
Millbank Tower with street light
The view from the train
The top of the Shard
In Borough High Street
Another excellent spot to photo London from
Dream and reality in Mumbai
Lining Things up
62 Buckingham Gate
Shard reflected
Latest C4 logo sculpture
Only railings
Beware the Men In Orange!
Another blurred photo of Strata
No Misc April – Misc May
Misc March
New Blackfriars station entrance
A view of Westminster Cathedral tower and the view from Westminster Cathedral tower
Snaps (in Paris and London - and of the Millennium Footbridge)
Pictures of the Libertarian Home meeting in Southwark last night
Changing views from the Monument
Google Earth and Mr and Mrs Goose
The Big Olympic Thing from nearer
The Shard looking like it’s in a 1950s postcard
A happy British Summer Time to all my readers
A Happy Christmas to all those still reading this
Shard even nearer to completion
Street social services management integrated command sub-centres
London from the east
The Shard nears completion
Freedom Tower and Gary Johnson at Samizdata
The final Steve Jobs Thing will be a brand new custom-built Apple headquarters
One World Trade Center
WWWhat a great afternoon!!!
More shiny new headquarters buildings
On the superfluity of the Paddington Basin rolling bridge
Nil scrap value
“Things appear almost impossible to escape from …”
Another pub
The Armstrong Gun
The docks beyond the Dome
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom not threatened by the end of the Big Thing Boom
The Shard from beyond the Barrier
Someone doesn’t understand what I mean by roof clutter
Gormley’s South Bank Men
Strata from a station
Blue Men on a boring building in Borough High Street
Kyrgyzstan cemetery and awesome frogs
Mmmmm … scaffolding!
Photographing change from the Monument
If you can’t beat them hire them
Stunning aerial photo of Shanghai
It’s interesting …
A Spanish high speed train bridge and a Spanish aqueduct
What camera is best for doing short videos about architecture?
October 2007 conversation about modern architecture with Patrick Crozier
Shard progress
St Valentine’s Day talk by me on architecture
And here’s the proof!!!  Sixteen little square pictures!!!
Professor C. Northcote Parkinson on the Edifice Complex
Leytonstonia
Shard in the clouds
Superb Shard pictures
Mmmmmm … Asian skyscrapers!
Abandoned Bangkok tower
Shard in rain
Beyond the Dome with Goddaughter One
Sexy architecture
More bridge magic
The Razor through a bus and without the bus
Cathedral photo
The Gherkin from Englefield Green
Big Singapore Thing
Recent Shard shots
Photoing the World Cup
Strata from Waterloo
Glass on the Shard
Same tower different look
Eye shadow
Shard sitings and and an agreeably honest rabies prevention sign
Strata through a gap
Light and shade
Shard getting bigger
Surrey are now crap at cricket but they are sitting on a gold mine
Visual modified cliche - Wheel and Wheel reflected
The bottom half of the Tokyo Sky Tree
Glass is now very strong
Car in in front of sloping houses
Brightly lit buildings against a dark sky
Airplanes converted into architecture
Why my libertarianism has the look and feel of socialism
The Shard starts to show
London is about to be Kapoored with a big new Olympic Games Thing
Cranes
Sushi and scaffolding at Victoria
Strata SE1 - seen on the way to London Bridge Station
Shard takes shape
The right to photograph
Awesome shot of Dubai
In Alicante
Reds against Blues in Munich
Two New York stadiums temporarily next to each other
Towers under the weather - and a steam engine steams to the rescue
Hasselblad hit by custom-built headquarters disease!
Saying it with lights in the Victoria Station shopping centre that were still switched on!
Free Skullcandy on a bus in snowy Edinburgh
Burj Dubai looking semi-sane
The Shard is definitely being built!
Picture of an aftershock of the credit crunch rippling around the world
Lining up those London landmarks
What’s up with this?
Luxembourg church in hill and Luxembourg footbridge
How building St Peter’s Rome split the Catholic Church and how marzipan was invented in Luebeck
Wuhan railway station under construction - with sunset behind
A local view
Of lists and distant totally photorealistic skyscrapers
The concrete monstrosities of the South Bank may be about to get colourful
Jonathan Meades on city planning
Slumponomics
Another London lump?
Structural decoration
Quota posting
Photographers in bother
Stuff in the foreground I wasn’t expecting
The Wheel through some Art
Crane cluster photo
Wheel etc.
Toys and big toys
Another view over London
Quota photo of the BT Tower
Work begins on the Shard of Glass
MBA - necessary but insufficient
The Rand revival - and some thoughts about Rand’s failure to understand architectural tradition
Ancient Sheffield dwarfed by modernity
Professor Dowd and I contemplate a stately home from a distance
By bus to Sheffield
Docklands towers with barbed wire
The Shard may actually be being built
The towers of London from the Copper Horse
The Long Walk is easier if you have a couple of horses pulling you
London continues to build big
Star Wars mosque and rockets mosque
Picture charging advice please
A view from Vauxhall Station
Colonial Governor’s Mansion dwarfed by modernity
Another fine day and more not Billion Monkey pictures
Palming them off with a sunset
Why Willem Buiter blogs and why I do
A movie staircase and a window
Sheep under wolf’s clothing
Bricks
Brisbane church dwarfed by modernity and this posting behaving very strangely
On top of Tower 42
An abstract view of Kings Place
Family get-together
Lump art and dinner in sky
More sticking up stuff
City of London lumps and a south London spike
Profundity and silliness
Big Pictures
Jellennium Bridge
Monster buildings and monster people
London after dark from above
Towers above the Dubai fog
Euston Arch
Billion Monkey lady! – Gherkin! – Monument!
Modernity dwarfed by church
To Greenwich by train and back by bus
Modern above ancient
More Beijing smog-blogging
Bird’s Nest in smog
What’s this for?
The original Burtynsky Nanpu bridge picture
Edward Burtynsky photos the towers of Shanghai
Roger Scruton on Prince Charles’s new town
Billion Monkeys earlier this evening!
To let – one Ark
Church covered in church pictures
Politics again …
Big Bens - Wheels - Big Ben teapots - telephone box teapots
San Francisco from Sausalito
Self-guided photo-tour of the streets of San Francisco
Outstanding and numerous aerial photos of St Petersburg
Billion Monkey Alan Little?
Airplane over Putney
The Gatwick Beehive
Another view of the tower of Westminster Cathedral
New classical music venue just down the road from Kings Cross Supplementary
I’ve been busy today so here’s a nice picture of the tower of Westminster Cathedral
Not a hot day in January for the Billion Monkeys!
The moving bridges of Chicago
Ursa major
Gives a whole new meaning to Mile High Club
The white stuff
There’s a crack in the cracks at Tate Modern
Beetham Tower – and a couple of other towers
Bookcase staircase many books electric book manybooks.net
At Bethnal Green railway station
The Shard is a Middle Eastern skyscraper but in London that still counts
Wheel obscured by reinforcing rods
Picture of Taipei 101 that came with Jesus
Tower in the distance
Three proper photos … and three Billion Monkeys!!!
Guess the city (2)
Guess the city
Victorian roof clutter
The robotic future
Gherkin with men in front
Michael Jennings photos Disney Hall
Billion Monkey madness and a proper picture
The new South Bank
Another target rich environment
Pictures of the year
Talking about St Pancras at St Pancras
Southwark at dusk
A bog standard (but rippling and therefore ultra-cool) tower soon to be built in Chicago
NatWestTower42
More St Pancras snaps
The space between the buildings
Eurostar says goodbye Waterloo hello St Pancras
The Ofcom bulge
The UK is not crowded
Architecture talk
A picture of a Wheel seen through a field of corn
I hope I’m wrong about this
Russian weirdness for the Anglos
Park Plaza detail
Billion Monkey men - Billion Monkey ladies - and a giant dolly
Photos - four transport - two artistic
Renaissance Man
Combining the genres
Engadgetry
Lots of links
Old cranes - new cranes
A new tower in Manchester
Photo-ing the weather
Assorted London quota photos
The Big Things of London
Billion Monkeys in the sunshine!
Comparing classical music with modern architecture
Footbridge in the dark and cricket
Not what it looks like
Shame you can’t do this kind of thing here
Taipei with skyscraper
Church dwarfed by modernity
Tall chess men and tall buildings in the evening
Not much of a mystery detail
“It took about a year …”
The Nanpu bridge approaches
Diamond Synchrotron
Robot car park in New York
Other people’s photos (2): New architecture in Hamburg
Billion Monkeys and people waving blue things!
Pictures of the world for the world
London photos by Fabio
By the rivers and canals of East London with Goddaughter One
Another quota photo of the Docklands towers
My computer is improved - plus some London towers
Cranes and street lamps and mp3s
Deceiving the eyes of Paris
Two views of London’s new Parliament
More ways to use the best pictures
Two sunset photos
What’s this?
Billion Monkey spots sunlight pattern bounced off Gherkin!
Tower with lights
Tate Modern Extension
Getting that roof clutter onto my computer
Lords pictures from last Monday
Westminster Cathedral reflections
Cricket with landmark
Abolish aesthetic planning permission
Zooming in on the Wembley Arch
London landmarks and London lumps
The Ben Pimlott lump
Strange reflection
Presumably the noise is not a problem
Nearby landmarks and a special effect
Must
Billion Monkey lies on the ground in front of Westminster Abbey!
Ugly flats in the sunshine
Billion Monkey photos flats in Bombay
Shadow on the Shell Building
Holocaust museum repeated as fashion?
Billion Monkey takes photos of Mexico City from helicopter!
Another view of the BT Tower
The Telecom Tower
Billion Monkey screen and another blurry pigeon
Grey skies looking weirdly blue
Light and lights in grey London
Same towers - different light
The evening sun through the windows of the Albert
The new Sainsbury’s in Wilton Road
Picture perfect
The new stand at the Oval
Digital preservation
Photography in public places (and it all depends what you mean by public places)
Tourist traps – foregrounds – cranes
An east London photo on the right