Wednesday, 26 May 2010

The Royal Liverpool University Hospital

Designed by Holford Associates around 1963, it opened its doors to the sick and inflicted in 1978. According to Sharples the back is "undeniably impressive, if intimidating" (Sharples, 2004, "Liverpool" Yale University Press).
Perhaps the best bit is the boiler house with its 'hammer-like' chimney. The determined grid of the facade is also successful, framed by the ventilation stacks and emergency escapes at either side.

Now that various properties have been demolished in the Mount Vernon area a new view has opened up of the hospital (see photograph). I recommend interested readers head up to the Mount Vernon public house, Kensington and have a look for themselves. It certainly is impressive. The scale of the building is vast, something visitors will not necessarily experience as they approach the hospital entrance because of the podium.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Technosis extronality cluster fuck

Strong words from James Howard Kunstler.
Another great lecture posted on TED.
Unfortunately he goes on about 'places not worth caring about' -
and makes a tenuous link between America's worst places and the
wars in the Middle-East and Afghanistan.....

Monday, 10 May 2010

Ugly Architecture on Flickr

Well I never, a group on Flickr devoted to my favorite topic!

There are some real gems here such as Boston City Hall: (photo by joe shlabotnik)

There are others that are photographed in a too 'arty' manner. If it is an ugly building don't try to make it look better through choreographed photography.

Ugly buildings can still make great architecture

The incomplete, unfinished, and unkempt can still make good architecture. An unresolved ambiguous composition [i.e. post-structuralist] is often more satisfying than the finished and complete [i.e. structuralist]

Perhaps as we engage with the 'death of the author', and begin to acknowledge the presence of the 'reader' we create space for 'un-complete' and fragmented solutions.

The World's Ugliest Buildings?

Come on Guardian, you must be able to do better than that!

The Guardian lists the following as being the World's Ugliest Buildings:

1. House of the Republic (now Palace of the Parliament), Bucharest

Nicolae Ceaucescu's monumental folly still holds world records for the largest civilian administrative building, most expensive administrative building, and heaviest building in the world. Constructing it required demolishing much of Bucharest's historic district, including 19 Orthodox Christian churches, six Jewish synagogues, three Protestant churches, and 30,000 residences. It's still unfinished.

2. Buckingham Palace, London

Home to the second-longest lasting unelected head of state in the world, let's face it, it's monolithic and could have been built by Stalin. Nash no doubt did his best to beautify a pig, but a pig it remains.

3. Ryerson University Library, Toronto

Proving that democracy can also be brutal (just ask the Iraqis), this 11-storey tower looks more like a second world war fortification than a temple of learning. The sort of place you wouldn't want to be late returning books to.

4. Any McDonald's drive-thru, anywhere

They are to architecture what the Happy Meal is to nutrition. And they're always the same. Everywhere. Around the world. No matter where they've plonked them. Vernacular? What's that?

5. St George Wharf, London

Butterflied prawns are good, butterflied roofs are not. What were they thinking? Occasionally voted the UK's most hated building, it probably wouldn't look out of place in Shanghai.

How did Italy get so Ugly?

I don't know, it seems alright to me.......

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Spending a Penny: The Humble Public Convenience

Unlike the current trend for prefabricated WC's that we find in our city centres of late, previous versions were far more substantial and determined.
Here we see a squat brick structure with high level openings and flat roof.
The structure is split into two rooms; one for male customers, the other for female.
Although now synonymous with the popular trend for 'cottaging', they represent a caring civic attitude and concern for the welfare of visitors to the city.
Whilst there is a stark functionalist aesthetic to the structure, other functions such as hygiene, beauty and safety are sadly neglected. There is a meanness to the architecture, its defensive form and materials attempting to withstand abuse and vandalism.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

The Death of Modernism

Here we see La Princesse [a giant mechanical spider, see] descending down the side of Concourse House in Liverpool.

Located on a key site next to Lime Street Station the building represented post-war optimism through its high-rise, high specification and city views.
In reality it was ill-located, poorly maintained and perhaps represents the worst of modernist design through its monotonous facade and lack of concern for how the building touched the ground plane.

The spider's bite sealed the buildings fate and it has now been demolished.

What will take its place? The land value of this site must be considerable and rental incomes could be significant....

Derelict or Ruin

When does a derelict building become a ruin? Regular readers will recall my previous blog on ruins []!

When does a delapidated, sad, empty, abandoned, redundant building become that special artifact we cherish as a ruin?

We return to Liverpool again to Edge Lane. There has been a 'compulsory purchase order' placed on these tremendous Victorian dwellings. This means the owners have been forced to relinquish their homes. The reason for this is to allow road widening/traffic alterations from the M62 motorway into Liverpool city centre.
If that wasn't bad enough, the windows of the properties have been boarded up and painted in some hideous "graffiti-style" fashion. This is clearly bad art, and perhaps a definition of ugliness.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Sign On: A nice piece of brutalism

This is a Job Centre in Liverpool. Why is it a bunker? Why is this public building so defensive? Who is being protected and from whom?

Upon closer inspection however, it isn't all as it first seems. The roller shutter leaves the bottom of the door exposed......
The band of concrete at first floor level is really a formal device: it serves no function beyond suggesting an aggressive, confrontational architecture.
Above the concrete band is a reclining glazed-cladding upper section; hardly fortress.