Showing posts with label Architecture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Architecture. Show all posts

24 Mar 2014

| Brutalist Estate of Mind |

Our fascination with Brutalist architecture and council estates took us on a stroll into the heart of the Barbican estate. This is so far removed from the other Brutalist estates that Hiro and I have visited that it may as well be a different planet.

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The Barbican Estate was built during the 1960's and completed in the 1970's. It stands on the Cripplegate area that was utterly devastated during the bombings of London during WWII.

Today, the estate is Grade II listed and houses about 4,000 people in what is essentially a walled city, a little oasis in the City of London. I imagine that the Barbican Estate setting Le Corbusier's heart a flutter with its seemingly harmonious living. Its lines are a wonderment of perspectives, from every angle, there is much to admire.

If you find yourself with some time to loose in London, and the sun is shining....Go find yourself here. It's a lovely place to chill amid a whole lot of angles. 

5 Mar 2014

Goodbye Heygate

The demolition of the Heygate Estate entered the final stages last month. It was taken down, bit by bit, memory by memory, home by home, to make way for a billion pound regeneration of the area.

I wanted to share some photos taken on our last trip to the Heygate Estate. Though its was already empty and very heavily guarded, it cast a powerful impression on me. Perhaps it is its sheer monolithic scale that made me feel so small. Maybe it is the repetitive uniformity that makes the estate feel quite daunting. Brutalist architecture will never make and outside onlooker feel cosy. 

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This is real London, real people, real struggles, real London not that dream that the guidebooks feed you. We don't all flounce around Harrods and live in beautiful detached houses with lush gardens and roses blooming at will.

I was watching a programme on the BBC a few nights ago that mentioned the estate and it really upset me for many reasons. The Heygate was regarded as a low quality housing estate on prime land (unlike the Barbican) so when the rich developers come calling, the Council gets demolishing with great big greedy eyes and itchy hands.

It is appalling how the media focussed mainly on the negative aspects of the Heygate to paint a bleak picture of life here. Yes, there were high-crime rates and a heap of other issues but it was HOME to many people and a place where bonds were made. And I am sure that the musical infectious sound of laughter  often filled the corridors on the Heygate. 

The regeneration will see the construction of a new development. Shiny, spangly fancy buildings that no Londoner (on an average salary) can realistically afford. The area's council say that there will be a number of affordable homes but let's face it there won't be nearly enough. Instead, with Londoners sidelined by housing costs, foreign buyers will snap up an apartment (a little bit of London prestige) that they may only stop in once a year (think Canary Wharf). Meanwhile, more and more Londoners need homes, affordable homes. I smell bullshit London!

19 Nov 2013

A Transparent Terrain

Fujimoto Sou was invited to create the 13th Serpetine Gallery Pavilion. His latticework structure dominated 350 square-metres in front of the Serpentine Gallery and looked like a transparent cubist cloud formation.

Thanks to Hiro's sensitive capturing of light, I am able to share some views the temporary structure with you.

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"For the 2013 Pavilion I propose an architectural landscape: a transparent terrain that encourages people to interact with and explore the site in diverse ways. Within the pastoral context of Kensington Gardens, I envisage the vivid greenery of the surrounding plant life woven together with a constructed geometry. A new form of environment will be created, where the natural and the man-made merge; not solely architectural nor solely natural, but a unique meeting of the two". 

Sou Fujimoto

Links: |Serpentine Galleries|Sou Fujimoto Wikipedia|

Thank you Hiro for the lovely photos!

16 Apr 2013

Perfect Lines

The chair is a very difficult object. Everyone who has ever tried to make one knows that. There are endless possibilities and many problems - the chair has to be light, it has to be strong, it has to be comfortable. It is almost easier to build a sky scraper than a chair. - Mies van der Rohe

My affection for chairs is hugely influenced by Hiro's keen obsession with them. One of the first chairs that took my fancy was the Barcelona Chair designed by Mies van der Rohe and Lily Reich in 1929. So when Hiro took me on a weekend trip to Barcelona, it went without saying that a visit to the German Pavilion would be a must. As it turns out, this is the 1st thing that we did.

The chair was purposely designed for the King of Spain to rest his royal rump upon in the German's entry for the International Exposition hosted by Barcelona in 1929.

To me this leather and chrome chair is a thing of beauty. The original Barcelona Chair was designed to me bolted together and the seats made of cream coloured pig skin. In 1950, this was redesigned using a seamless chromed stainless steel frame which is hand buffed to a mirror-like finish and 148 separate pieces of bovine leather to form the cushions. 

It is said that one of these chairs is an original 1929 version. I was to pleased to see them and was sorely tempted to flout the rules and rest my unroyal rump on one while the security guard nipped off somewhere.

The Pavilion itself is an architectural poem of clean lines that narrow and focus visitor's lines of vision to the framed views intended by Mies. The interior of the pavilion consists of a series of offset marble and glass partitions. Four types of Marble are used throughout the structure,giving it a smooth and infinitely tactile quality. 

I am a fan of the Bauhaus and feel so lucky that I have got to visit this iconic building and see one of my favourite chairs in it's near original form. 

Mies van der Rohe was the last director of the Bauhaus before the Nazi's finally forced the school's closure.

| Wikipedia info | Barcelona Pavilion |


28 Nov 2012

Slanted. Angled. Twisted. Distorted.

Though the boyish lines of my clothes are a blunt contrast to the soft feminine style of many a Tokyo lady, I told myself that my cement shade outfit befitting of the urbanscape of Tokyo. I also told myself that there is nothing wrong with attempting to resemble a building. I don't take myself very seriously.

\\ Wool trousers from All Saints London + Ankle boots from Office + Shirt from B Store London \\

Harsh contrasts appeal to my nature and red lipstick is a favourite way to stain colour continuity. This particular one is Tom Ford's Cherry Lush.

Tokyo is a city of great heights and one can spend much time just looking upwards at the masses of concrete pinnacles. A great way to distort your balance.

Speaking of distortion....

....The newly opened Tokyu Plaza in Omotesando/Harajuku, designed by Hiroshi Nakamura is an impressive feature to look at. The faceted mirrored entrance draws you in and then morphs you into a glossy kaleidoscope. I enjoyed this bit of playful architecture so much that I would have happily spent the rest of my afternoon going up and down the escalators. Due to this fact, I haven't a clue as to what shops are actually in the plaza. :)

26 Nov 2012

In which we came to be at the Silver Pavilion at sundown...

While in Kyoto, we chose to overlook the ostentatious Kinkakuji in favour of the sublime and in my opinion evermore harmonious Ginkakuji. We reached the temple grounds at sunset when the buildings were gathering shadows about themselves and cavorting with the remains of sunlight.

Ginkakuji was originally built as a palace around 1482 and it came to serve as a temple in 1490. The building's dark exterior was once covered in black lacquer and I can only imagine how magnificent this would have looked by sunset or indeed moonlight. 

Having survived many earthquakes and fires,the main buildings sit stoically silent in their dark-wood splendour and I felt immediately at ease here. There is something about Ginkakuji that strikes at the heart of the elusive meaning of "wabi-sabi" and my own personal aesthetic of beauty which makes this my favourite temple in Kyoto.

Photos taken by Hiro and I using a Canon DSLR and an iPhone.

7 Nov 2012


Finding myself in Shibuya Station inflicted a chaotic feeling in my head. Swiftly moving sprightly multitudes shift by at seemingly supersonic speed, so fast that they look like ghosts. 

These photos were taken during a rare quiet moment. I haven't a clue how anyone can navigate their way through this mayhem yet 2.4 million passengers per weekday manage just fine.

I was glad to learn that Shibuya will be undergoing a massive redevelopment that will result in a sleek,swanky and less manic spaceship structure. Designed by the masterful Tadao Ando...this is going to be a marvel! I am excited already!

\\ Read more about it HERE

3 Jul 2012

E8 ➸ E9 And Back Again

I never tire of walking around Hackney. The scenery is harsh in it's urbanity yet it is metamorphosing as I watch into something new and shining and Olympic. So it is now more than ever that I search for bits of old Hackney....something that resembles the Hackney I grew to love over the many years living in the borough.

With its foreboding tower blocks (most of which have now been blown asunder). With its grubby and at times intimidating side streets.
Even with the great clean-up (lest the world see our seedy festering underbelly) there are parts that still make many think twice before crossing the boundaries.

It's a funny feeling to think the world will be watching Hackney this year. I feel a bit exposed now.....It's my home. If I were to admit something about my life in London, I would say that Hackney made me Love London.

I ♥ my endz.