Brian Micklethwait's Blog
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Michael Jennings on A Docklands footbridge about to be put in its place
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- Another London Big Thing alignment
- Shard and Walkie-Talkie from the top of the Cheesegrater
- The hottest day of the year (5): Old Citroens in Roupell Street
- The hottest day of the year (4): An antique view from Waterloo
- Large number of jobs
- The draw that turned out not to be
- Ghostbusters sculpture advert at Waterloo Station
- On the connection between drinking lots of coffee and living a long and healthy life
- Spraycan with moon
- Gherkin in splendid isolation
- Bird – and bird close up
- LIFE at the Park Theatre
- London looking like Dubai
- Illness and coolness
- Photoers photoing the views from the Tate Modern Extension
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Category archive: Bridges
Last Tuesday was ferociously hot by English standards.
The first thing I noticed, when I stepped into the inferno that was outdoors, were those windows which are not windows. (1)
I was at Waterloo because my officially designated destination was to check out the state of this view:
I took that photo in July 2004, with a now antique Canon A70, through a window, hence those unfortunate reflections.
Because it was a rather dirty window, this photo also emits a rather antique-photo atmosphere, like it was taken in the very earliest days of colour photography, an atmosphere greatly reinforced by the subject matter. Right in the middle of that snap is a bunch of back-to-back terrace houses. Where are we? Somewhere in The North? No, we are looking out on a little bit of London near Waterloo Station, a strange clutch of houses left untouched by either bombing or Modern Architecture. All around this antiquated patch of otherness, Modern Architecture is springing up, beating its chest and yelling for attention. But the thing itself is an unsullied little set of dwellings that would not be out of place in a DH Lawrence TV adaptation.
Here is how the same view looked last Tuesday:
No dirty window, no reflections, because I managed to get my camera through a small window opening out into the open. Also, my latest camera takes a broader view of things, which means that the stubby tower in the 2004 photo has become slimmer, and more of the horizon is to be seen. The Oxo Tower, for example, has moved into view.
The most obvious change is how 240 Blackfriars now blocks out so much. Tate Modern, Tate Modern Extension, and a large chunk of the City, all blotted out.
The place where I took these photos, from the outside, in 2004 as now, looks like this:
Just before taking the new version of the back-to-backs view, I took another photo, through another window off to the right of the ones you see in the above photo, the one of the Wheel and the cranes and the clutter in this earlier posting about a cricket match. (3) Which makes this the forth posting involving photos taken on that expedition.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that there I was, making my first visit to the Tate Modern Extension, and photoing from the top of it: Big Things, cranes, roof clutter, bridges, churches dwarfed by modernity, and so forth and so on, but I made no mention of other photographers. Did I perhaps ignore them?
This was the first picture I took of the new building when we arrived in its vicinity, not of the whole building, but of some people at the top of it, taking photos:
And when I got to the top myself, I was keen to photo more of my fellow photoers, and I did:
The first and last of those nine photos are of people taking photos of the building. All the others are, as you can surely see, of people taking photos from the building, from that excellent top level aperture.
Almost entirely smartphones. I didn’t pick them out that way. That’s just how it turned out. The only non-smartphone camera is in the top picture, the one taken from the ground, and even he has a smartphone snapper next to him.
There are some excellent photos of the new Tate Modern Extension to be found here, this one being number 3 of the big pictures at the top of that posting:
As that picture shows very well, they’ve stuck a big lump onto the back of the Original Tate Modern, which is the Big Thing with the big tower on the left as we look. Tate Modern itself calls this new lump, on the right, the “Switch House”, which may or may not catch on as the real name of this thing. We shall see.
The new lump is a sort of cross between a modernistic erection from the Concrete Monstrosity era of Modern Architecture and a Crusader Castle. The structure is concrete, but the surface is brick, just like Original Tate Modern. And very handsome it looks, to my eyes. Those thin windows suggest to me people who want to be able to fire arrows at you, while being much harder to hit themselves. An appropriately belligerent metaphor for the still somewhat fraught relationship between Modern Art and the surrounding culture.
What that set of pictures at Dezeen does not wallow in is what you can see from the new Tate Modern Extension, and especially from that bigger opening at the top, the one without glass. That is indeed what it looks like from below. It is a viewing gallery. I never quite believe arrangements like that until I have personally sampled them. What will it cost? Do you have to book? Is there a lot of airport security crap to get through? Etc. But all the answers were good. It’s free, there is no security theatre to contend with, and the viewing gallery was everything that it promised to be.
I was up there with GodDaughter 2 last Sunday afternoon, and trying not to ignore her completely. Plus, the place was about to close. So I was very much in we’ll-look-at-it-when-we-get-home mode. But I got some good snaps, which at least inform you of the sorts of views you get up there, even if they don’t always hit the spot for artistic impression:
Big Things. Cranes. Roof clutter. Bridges. Churches dwarfed by modernity. BMdotcom heaven, in other words. Click at will.
LATER: Or, even better (much better actually), click on this.
On Tuesday of this week I did a posting about the view from Docklands ten years ago, which featured a shot of central London taken from one of the Docklands towers. While concocting that posting, I of course looked at other pictures taken from the same spot, on that same photo-expedition. Here is one of those other pictures:
What got my attention in this snap was those bits of stuff, floating on those two flat, floating box/barges? Let’s take a closer look:
Could that perchance be some kind of footbridge? Yes it most definitely could.
Googling “docklands footbridge” and clicking on images soon got me to the bridge that these bits subsequently turned into. It’s the South Quay Footbridge, which is just round the corner from where I snapped its bits. I’ve probably got shots of this bridge that I subsequently took myself, but here are a couple that I quickly found on the www:
On the left is a photo of this bridge that I found at the WilkinsonEyre website, WilkinsonEyre being the guys who designed it. On the right is another shot (which I found here) of the same bridge. Less dramatic, and in a way that wrongly suggests that it is a railway bridge, but making it clear beyond doubt (with its particular view the sticking up bit of the bridge) that this is definitely the bridge I was looking for.
What all this illustrates is that the pictures I take of London contain far more information that I can possibly hope to process straight away. I later spot things. In this particular case, I spot things ten years later.
I definitely intend to seek out this particular bridge and take some photos of it for myself. It’s not a bridge style that I especially care for, with its ungainly non-vertical spike, but I guess it makes quite a bit of structural sense. Maybe I can find an angle that makes it look really good, as some of the other WilkinsonEyre pictures also do, I think.
And while I’m about it, here are some more footbridges, already in place ten years ago, for me to check out:
Finally, my thanks to Michael Jennings for contriving to take me to the top of this tower, which he was able to do because at the time, as I recall, he was working in another part of it.
I’ll end this posting with one of my favourite pictures of Michael, taken on that very same day and in that very same spot, as he looks out across East London – the Victoria Docks, City Airport and beyond – in a pose that suggests that he personally owns at least half of what he is looking at:
Sadly, not. But I still like the picture, which I think is very Ayn Rand heroic.
More pictures of Michael in this posting today at Samizdata.
I must have walked past it a hundred times, from Currys PC World and on my way down Tottenham Court Road towards to Maplins, seeking blank DVDs and plastic DVD sleeves. But yesterday I actually noticed it. Above a back alley called Beaumont Place, just before it arrives at the back entrance of University College Hospital, there is a a footbridge:
A rather strange one. Hospitals often have these little footbridges, connecting the Somethingtrics Department to the Somethingology Ward, or whatever, so medics and more to the point patients, don’t have to go down to ground level and into the big outdoors.
But unlike many such bridges, which were clearly added years after the original buildings were erected, this one looks to have been part of the original design, to attach the new green building to the older dark grey and boxy building. (Form, as is usual with Modern Architecture, is following fashion as well as function.)
What is that strange lump on one side of it, on the bottom? And what’s with the big sticking-out dark grey and boxy bit that the bridge is attached to?
That strange curved pointy thing, to be seen in the left hand picture behind the bridge, sticks out high above over that back entrance. Perhaps the idea was to draw attention to the entrance, but if so, it contributes very little along those lines. Having the words “University College Hospital” and below that, in bigger letters, the word “Entrance” , does that job far better. Aside from being physically pointy, the high-up pointy thing just looks pointless. But maybe it has some other more meaningful purpose.
New, big and impressive bridges have been somewhat rare here, recently. All the great bridges of my time seem to have been done at least a decade ago, or of course longer ago. Very recently, not so much. Financial crisis, I guess. Not so much “infrastructure”.
But, feast your eyes on this (that being a link to a recent posting about it at Dezeen):
Click on that to get it bigger.
The Guardian has more:
Tabiat ("nature") bridge, the largest of its kind in Iran, was architect Leila Araghian’s first project. She designed it five years ago while a student, winning a local competition for a plan to connect two parks separated by a highway in north Tehran.
It was built over two years and was unveiled in late 2014 by Tehran’s mayor, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf. It has since become a popular place for hangouts and morning sports. Last month, as Iranians celebrated an ancient festival of outdoor picnicking, thousands flocked to the bridge.
“I didn’t want it to be just a bridge which people would use to get from one park to another,” said Araghian, who is now 31. “I wanted it to be a place for people to stay and ponder, not simply pass.”
Built on three large pillars, the 270-metre curved structure has broad entrances, multiple pathways and three floors of restaurants and cafes and sitting areas. It was recently named among the winners of the Architizer A+ awards, a global architectural competition based in New York.
I love it when bridges are not just things to go across, but places to be in. London used to have a great example of such a bridge. It should again.
I was very proud of this photo of seven London bridges ...:
… when I first posted it here.
Today I took another photo of these same seven bridges:
I wish this model included Westminster as well as the City, but it’s a model of the City.
I already showed you some Narbonne bridges, snapped during my France expedition. Here are more bridges.
Are these first lot of bridges really bridges, or are they just buildings with holes in the bottom of them to let people through? I reckon these make the cut, but once the buildings start really piling up on top of the holes …?:
I’m doing these bridge photos in sets of three, and next is a clutch of photos of a set of three bridges that connect the town of Ceret to the other side of the local river. Picasso spent time in Ceret, because of the light. (I also photoed Renault Picassos.)
The regular shot of these bridges is from below, as you can see if you click on the second of these photos. But I was with people who were in a hurry, so I only got to photo the bridges from the other bridges, or in one case, the shadow of a bridge, from the bridge. And oh look, photographers!:
In the first of these next three bridge photos, there are three more bridges, by my count. They’re in the seaside town of Collioure. The other two are in Perpignan, where, just like in Quimper (where I have also visited these same friends (G(od)D(aughter)2’s family) – they have houses all over the place), there is a river flowing through the middle of the town with multiple bridges over it.
Finally, here are some rather more modern bridges. First there is one of the main motorway from France to Spain, which carries a lot of lorries.
The motorways of Europe may, I surmise, be the place on earth where robot drivers have their first seriously big impact. Robot cars are too complicated, and to start with, what will be the point of them? But robot lorries will be able to travel a lot faster than regular lorries, for a lot longer than regular lorries, on roads that are the most controlled and predictable roads in existence. European motorways carry colossal amounts of freight, unlike in the USA, where a lot freight goes by train, Europe’s railways being full of passenger trains. And there’s nothing like a sight of this particular motorway, handily shown off by being placed on the side of a mountain in full view of the local and non-charged version of the same road, to see all this.
In the middle below is a hastily snapped shot from a bridge as we drove over it, over a newly constructed high speed passenger railway, again connecting France to Spain. Brand new railways lines have a certain pristine charm, I think, with the gravel under the tracks yet to be blackened by constant use.
Finally, we have what may well be my favourite South of France bridge photo of them all, on the right there. This is one of those unselfconsciously functional footbridges, which more and more abound in towns and cities (London has many such bridges), and which join work spaces off the ground to other work spaces off the ground. This particular footbridge is in Perpignan.
Quite why such bridges, which have long been around, are now proliferating is an interesting question. Maybe it is just that organisations are getting bigger, and demand bigger buildings, and connecting two buildings by a footbridge of this sort turns two buildings into one building, at any rate for certain purposes. If two bureaucracies that live across the road from each other merge, then a bridge joining the top floors together is the logical first managerial step. This allows the new bosses to commune with one another, without having to trundle up and down and across the road all day long, rubbing their shoulders with the unclean shoulders of their underlings. Lower footbridges bridges enable functional specialisation to proliferate among lesser personages.
But, what do I know? My point is, I like such footbridges. And whereas most of the other bridges in this posting are the sort that feature in lots of other people’s photos and in picture postcards, these Brand-X urban footbridges are only a Thing because I say they are. Which is a major purpose of truly good photography. Truly good photography doesn’t just celebrate the already much celebrated; truly good photography offers new objects of potential celebration.
So now I will celebrate this Perpignan footbridge some more:
A bridge in Narbonne
The footbridges of Shad
Regent’s Canal creatures (and a photographer)
Cat and cubs
Footbridges in the sky
Two bits for Samizdata and a weird bridge in Poole
Bike fishing in Amsterdam
Twelve 2015 photos
Fantasy Vauxhall Bridge with lots of glass
Four towers joined together by two bridges
A viadukt and a tunnel
Painting the bridges of Richmond
View of the footbridge - view from the footbridge
Photoing down by the river
iPhone with added fish eye lens
Cranes and a bridge (but not in a good way)
Golden Cheesegrater with cranes
Photographers by the river
Tomorrow I will get out less
Old London by the Buck Brothers
Shard - Guys - Tate Modern - Blackfriars Bridge - photoed during Magic Hour
Hungerford Footbridges photographers
London is getting more colourful
The receiving station at Swains Lane (and the previous version of it)
The view from Suicide Bridge
Shadow photography (again)
Golden Gate being built – Severn Road Bridge ditto – C20 photography – Hitler’s paintings
Some photographers last November
Christmas Day photos
To Covent Garden (1): The twisty footbridge
In the City with Gus
Tower Bridge glass shattered by beer bottle
Looking down through the see-through Tower Bridge walkway – but what about looking up through it?
Recently on dezeen
My week in Brittany 2: A crane holding a bridge at Canning Town!
Smaller Old Thing in front of Big New Things
ASI Boat Trip 8: Bridges
ASI Boat Trip 5: Individuals
New London bridge competition
Tower Bridge before it got covered in stone
The Dragon Bridge of Da Nang
I don’t know which building this is but it sure looks fine in the sunset
Two skyscrapers joined by a bridge that is a swimming pool
Jiaozhou Bay Bridge (aka Spaghetti Junction on Sea)
Lego bridge in Germany
Under Blackfriars Bridge
“In order to comply with Google’s regulations …”
Vladivostock from above
Seven London bridges from the ME Hotel Radio Bar
Confirmation that map use has seriously declined
How big should these squares be?
Mark Steyn on Obama’s Hoover Dam and me on paywalls
Michael Jennings photos the bridges of Porto
Crows nest made of coat hangers
Relocating the Porto bridge
Proposed new footbridges for London and for Changsha
I need to photo this again
Edwin is a bad person
The Walkie Talkie and its surroundings
Baltimore: cranes - a bridge - scaffolding
Bridges for animals
New apostrophe-shaped footbridge in Hull
More March 5th photographers (and more spaces between pictures)
Remembering a warmer day
Wandering about afterwards
Four crane photos
Tower Bridge with railway clutter in the foreground
London bridge photos
Viaduct from above
Chelsea Bridge under wraps
The Royal Victoria Dock is not (but looks like) a transporter bridge
A favourite Sunday snap
On the superfluity of the Paddington Basin rolling bridge
The graffiti says he won’t get his keys back
Strange footbridge over brick wall
New bridge in Melbourne
A Spanish high speed train bridge and a Spanish aqueduct
More bridge magic
The Wheel seen through Hungerford Bridge
Bay Bridge plus a new bridge next to it
I do love a steam train on a viaduct
Cats and bridges on Pixdaus
One man’s intellectual theft is another man’s marketing
Rubbish bridge in Shangai
Two bridges in Portugal
Luxembourg church in hill and Luxembourg footbridge
Sailing photos – and another bridge for the collection
Seto Ohashi Bridge
A thin bridge in Wales
Profundity and silliness
Another great viaduct
Craziness done with austerity
Floppy road bridge where the cars nearly get wet
Switching from dumb bombing to smart bombing
The original Burtynsky Nanpu bridge picture
Nanpu Bridge in Quimper
Flickring and Googling for the AMGEN bridge
Billion Monkey seen through the Millenium Bridge!
Malaysian footbridge for everyone except … gephyrophobiacs?
Politics again …
The Messina Suspension Bridge is on again
San Francisco from Sausalito
Outstanding and numerous aerial photos of St Petersburg
The moving bridges of Chicago
I love the internet
Flat viaduct and spiral bridge
Gherkin with men in front
Another target rich environment
Bristol footbridge photo
A Real Photographer comments
The goat menace
Millau Viaduct with goats
Thin Canadian bridge
“Don’t burn your bridges before they’re hatched …”
The bridge that was going to make Westminster a fine city and London a desert
At the dogs
Bridge over bright water
Sunset with bike
Assorted London quota photos
Shadow and light near Tower Bridge
Footbridge in the dark and cricket
Amazing map of amazing new Moscow bridge
New Moscow road bridge
New footbridge in Edinburgh
Me on a bridge by Goddaughter One
The Nanpu bridge approaches
Other people’s photos (6): More bridges
Other people’s photos (5): Red balloons on a monochrome bridge in Paris
London photos by Fabio
By the rivers and canals of East London with Goddaughter One
Pictures of and from Albert Bridge
The Hungerford footbridges