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

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Category archive: Architecture

Sunday August 31 2014

The weather in London today was particularly fine.  The light was bright and washed clean by recent rain, and the atmosphere was neither too hot nor too humid.  There was bright blue sky, but there were also plenty of clouds.  I had a bank to visit and electrical items to obtain, all doable on Sunday if you are in Tottenham Court Road, and then I and my companion went south towards the river.

I photoed tourist stuff, hereinafter termed touristuff.  I love to photo touristuff.  It changes from year to year, and it is arranged in hightly photogenic clumps such as you could never enjoy if you merely bought a single touristuff item:

image image

Those queens seem now to be very popular, but popes less so.  But those decapitated lady bottle openers are a new siting, for me.  It’s amazing what can look sexy, even after being guillotined.

I photoed books, under Waterloo Bridge.  Books in large and sunlit clumps, and particular books, with particular titles:

image image

It seems that the Conan The Barbarian books were written not by just the one writer, but by a team of writers.  I did not know this.  I wonder how that was organised.

I photoed Art.  I photoed a lady all in white, photoing Art under the Queen Elizabeth Hall.  That’s if you reckon middle of the range graffiti to be Art.  Is this a possible future for brutalist architecture?  Painting such concrete relics would surely make sense.

And I photoed people sitting on Art, in the form of giant green chairs, next to the Imax Cinema roundabout near Waterloo station

image image

Apparently these big green chairs used to be down in that strange circle of pedestrian space that surrounds the bottom of the Imax Cinema, inside the roundabout.

If my walkabout this afternoon is anything to go by, Art is becoming less about Deep Significance (of the sort that has to be explained with Art Bollocks essays next to the Deeply Significant Art), and more about fun.  Bring it on.

And bring on the day when they have exhibitions of Touristuff in Tate Modern.  I hardly ever go inside Tate Modern, but I bet that would be more fun than what they put there now.  And it might also be more Significant.

Saturday August 30 2014

Indeed:

image

Photoed by me, from one of the landings of my communal staircase, yesterday morning I think.

What makes this photo is, I think, that you can see concrete, and dark openings, and shirts, and very little else

I see that have spelt “brutalism” as “burtalism” in the photofiles there.  Apologies to all who, for whatever reason, regret this error.

The building is called “Hide Tower”.

Wednesday August 27 2014

Photoed this afternoon, on a dull day, through a train window:

image

The train in question was travelling back from Denmark Hill, past Brixton, and, after the above shot, on past Battersea Power Station and across the river into Victoria.  There are excellent views views of central London from this line, for those with zoom eyesight or zoom lenses.

As to what this tumult of cranes is doing, I am almost certain it’s the new US Embassy in Battersea, although the buildings we can already see are, I believe, just apartments or offices or something.  Usually I see all this from the other side, e.g. from Vauxhall Bridge.

Friday August 22 2014

I loved them when I photoed them last January.  Now the chimney pots and rooftops of Paris get serious Real Photographer attention, from Michael Wolf:

image

One of David Thompson’s latest clutch of ephemera.

Wednesday August 20 2014

One of my favourite www destinations just now is the Evening Standard website.  Presumably because there are other Evening Stardards in the world besides the Evening Standard, the Evening Standard of London, the website of the Evening Standard is called “London News” (even as its website is something different, involving the world “standard").

A lot of this is because, more and more, I love London, and the Evening Standard, not unnaturally, has lots of London stories.

A particularly fine one recently featured this delectable photo:

image

The young woman is an Evening Standard journalist, Miranda Bryant, and the swimming pool is on floor 52 of the Shard, being one of the amenities offered by the Shangri La hotel.

One of the edges of this swimming pool is right next to the glass wall of the Shard, and I can’t help thinking how great it would be if the glass wall of the Shard were to double up, at this point, as the wall of the swimming pool.  Think of the photographs this would provoke.  This is why God invented x50 zoom lenses.

An ultrazoom photo I have long wanted to take of the Shard would feature a gorgeous young woman in silhouette, at the top, where the light goes right through the building.  But such a woman swimming might be even better, especially if the light could go right through that also.

One of the reasons why architecture is such an influential profession these days (if you are one of the top dogs of the profession – one of the “starchitects") is that the kind of down-the-pecking-order architects and engineers whose job is to contrive things wanted by their bosses or clients, and make these things work properly, can now, it would appear, make absolutely anything work properly.  Therefore, the starchitects, the ones who decide how things are going to be and to look, can now make them be and look any way that their starchitectural whims determine.  (See, e.g.: Zaha Hadid.) Not so long ago, a swimming pool high up in a skyscraper would be a disaster waiting to happen to everyone foolish enough to situate themselves anywhere below it, and in particular a disaster for any idiot architect silly enough to ordain such a thing.  Now, it is just a matter of some starchitect saying “do it”, and it is done.

Monday August 04 2014

Blogging here will temporarily cease after this posting, and will resume at or about the middle of next week.  I will be back.  Have a good week.

Meanwhile, as a visual au revoir, here is another of the many photos I took last night, from that tiny little artificial urban mountain that is Stave Hill:

image

Through the gasometer in the foreground, we see the Dome of St Paul’s (attended by many cranes), the BT Tower, and on the left, with the spikey bobble on its top, the top of the Monument.

I tried to time my arrival at Stave Hill with the arrival of sunset, but got there far, far too early.  So, I waited, and read a book.  I hope you agree with me that it was worth the wait.

Sunday August 03 2014

I’ll let this guy explain it:

The areas around Rotherhithe and Surrey Quays was once a series of docks that were slowly filled in and lost in the 1970s and early 1980s.

As befits an area that was originally a marsh, and then an industrial hub, it was entirely flat, so it may surprise people to learn that there is a decent sized hill lurking right in the middle of these former docks.

Stave Hill is however a very modern edifice, being made up largely from rubble left over from the clearance of the docks and then shaped into a sharply defined flat-topped cone.  It is also only just about as high as most of the houses that surround it, so while you get a view from the top that is almost entirely free of blockages, the hill itself is hidden from people looking the other way.

The reason I’ve no time to describe it is I’ve just got back from taking photos from the top of it myself.  I took a million zoom shots of individual Big Things, on their own and in clumps, but here is a panoramic shot that gives you a sense of what the place is like:

image

I forced myself to pick just the one shot from the twenty seven million I took.  Well, 463 to be more exact.  Often, after one of these photo-expeditions, I pick out about twenty of the best shots, and and then never get around to showing them here at all, because it becomes too complicated, and there is too much to be said about them all.  This time I’ve kept it simple, and stolen stuff from elsewhere, and that way, I got it done.

I will say this, though.  The sheer number of Big Things you can see from this spot is truly amazing.  Some of my favourites are Big Things that you can just see the very top of, like Big Ben and the tower of Westminster Cathedral.  And I think I also spotted the tops of two of the chimneys of Battersea Power Station, but that needs to be checked.  Definites include; the Gherkin, the Shard, the Cheesegrater, the Walkie Talkie, the Strata, the Spraycan, the Wheel, Tower Bridge, the Dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Monument, and, away on the other side, the Docklands Towers.  The tricky bit is getting as many Big Things as possible into the one shot, which is quite hard.  For instance, you can’t see the Gherkin in the picture above.  Those trees do not help.  For this reason, it might be fun to go back in the winter, when the damn leaves have gone away.

Friday August 01 2014

I get google emails whenever “3D printing” is mentioned at all prominently on the www, and the latest one definitely got my attention.  It linked to a story about a guy who has been 3D printing in his garden.

A building contractor living in Minnesota has developed his own 3D printer which can print concrete directly from CAD design software, and he has used it to 3D-print a castle in his back garden.

Here is how that looks:

image

Calling that a “castle”, as this story does, is a bit of a stretch.  At the moment, if this is anything to go by, open-air and architectural 3D printing seems to have all the deft elegance and aesthetic flexibility of a dot matrix printer.  But the equivalents of laser printers, and then (what we have now) cheap laser printers, and cheap colour printers, will surely soon be with us.  And in due course the building trade will become something completely different, and hence buildings will too.

Yet another reason why I would love to remain alive for another century, just to see how this kind of stuff develops.

In England, this guy would either have failed to get planning permission for this erection, or else he would now be being told to take it down, for having failed to get planning permission.

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