Architecture

Paradise Lost

I had braced myself for its eventual fate, but seeing footage of Birmingham Central Library being demolished still brought a tear to my eye.

‘It’s a bonkers, outsized flagpole’: Brighton greets the world’s tallest moving observation tower

Leo Benedictus writes about Brighton’s new ‘vertical pier’ in the Guardian:

About once a century, Brighton builds something mad. Between 1786 and 1823, it was the Royal Pavilion, an Asian fusion fantasy fun palace where the Prince Regent could eat, drink, gamble and fornicate more ostentatiously than would be polite in London. Between 1866 and 1916, with mass pleasure-seeking now enabled by the railways, it was the West Pier, the great masterpiece of the architect Eugenius Birch, featuring a pavilion (later a theatre) and eventually a concert hall. Next summer, right on time, it will be something new. Most of Britain doesn’t know about it yet, but pretty soon it will be one of the country’s most famous buildings.

My friend James referred to the i360 as a “self–indulgent, grossly–oversized phallus complete with champagne bar cock–ring”. I’m reserving judgement.

Next Larger Context

Eliel Saarinen:

Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context – a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.

The Olympic Velodrome

The Olympic Velodrome

Last weekend I visited the new Olympic velodrome for the UCI Track Cycling World Cup. Part of London Prepares, a programme of test events before the games take place this summer, it was thrilling to see athletes up close as they also prepare for London 2012. The building is absolutely stunning, although Ben Terrett notes a few design oversights that remain.

The Commonwealth Institute

The Commonwealth Institute

Thanks to London Open House, last month Simon and I visited the Commonwealth Institute, regarded by English Heritage as the second most important modern building in London (after Royal Festival Hall). Neglected for ten years, work will soon begin on preparing the site for the New Design Museum, scheduled to open in 2014.

The Architecture of Brasília

Brasília is remarkable for a number of reasons, not least its aeroplane like street layout planned by Lúcio Costa. However it’s the distinctive architecture that draws most attention, and much of this was designed by Oscar Niemeyer. Few architects are given the opportunity to design on such a scale, so it’s unsurprising that I recognised many familiar patterns and motifs appearing throughout the city’s many different buildings.

The Brasília Palace Hotel

The Brasília Palace Hotel

For anyone coming to Brasília for its modernist architecture, no visit would be complete without a stay at this hotel. Designed by Oscar Niemeyer and opened in 1958, it hosted dignitaries such as Queen Elizabeth and Che Guevara before being devastated by fire in 1978. After facing decades of abandonment and neglect, it was modernised and reopened in 2006.

Absolutely, Positively, Wellington

Absolutely, Positively, Wellington

From Nelson I reluctantly headed back to Wellington, cursing myself for not having an itinerary that continued south. However, Wellington will remain the most memorable city of this trip, although perhaps not entirely for the right reasons.

Chicago: A City Apart

Chicago: A City Apart

I briefly encountered Chicago in March, relaxing there for two nights after three long days aboard the California Zephyr. At that time it was a snow covered, cold and blustery city, but I saw enough to want to come back.

Seattle: Finding Gems in the Emerald City

Seattle: Finding Gems in the Emerald City

The first stop in my four city tour of America was Seattle in the north-western state of Washington. Probably best known for it’s iconic Space Needle, it’s perhaps no surprise that I spent most of my time fixated on this slender looking tower.

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