Geffrye Museum

Last week, Hackney Council rejected David Chipperfield’s proposed extension to the Geffrye Museum. Is this a decision based on saving The Marquis of Lansdowne Pub for sake of it? In my last post, I wrote:

“A lot of people have sentimental attachments to buildings – you may have memories of a place and what it made you feel at the time but that is all they are: memories. If something doesn’t work for its original intended purpose then how can it continue to serve as anything other than a monument to itself?”

Proposed Extension by David Chipperfield

In the case of The Marquis of Lansdowne pub, I feel this point is highly relevant. I visited the Geffrye a few weeks ago and spoke to a couple of people who work there about the extension and the issue of the preservation of the pub. The team behind the Geffrye had looked into saving it and it was not viable to the museum either as an exhibition space or as a restaurant as it was not big enough. Besides, none of the original features of the pub remain internally, all that is there is a crumbling shell. The pub has not been in operation for more than 20 years and the following question needs to be asked: in an area as vibrant as Shoreditch and Hoxton, if it was viable to reopen The Marquis of Lansdowne as a pub then it would have reopened by now. As far as I have seen, there are no concrete plans to do anything with the pub from those who have battled admirably to save it.

Marquis of Lansdowne Pub (guardian.co.uk)

I have seen comments on other blogs along the lines of: “memories being flushed down the toilet if it is demolished”. The people who feel this way will still have their memories of the pub and they will not disappear because the building is no longer there.

I understand that there is a need for conservation and retaining our architectural heritage. It is not always beneficial to preserve a building and this, in my opinion, is one of those cases. Sometimes it seems as though sites are saved in the name of heritage when there is none to consider. I am all for saving the pub if there is a viable use for it or if the building can have be given new purpose, but if there is nothing but sentimentality behind the cause then why should that be allowed to get in the way of progress?

Prague- Strahov Stadium

I visited Prague for the third time recently. Previously, I had seen all the main tourist sights I had wanted to so this time I wanted to see some other parts of the city that are not so well known.

One of the places of interest to me was the Strahov Stadium which I have always wanted to visit, if anything just for its sheer size. The stadium was first built in 1926 and then expanded first in 1948 and then again in 1975. It was used mainly for large gymnastic displays known as Sokol before hosting music concerts in later years. The capacity of the stadium is around 220,000, making it the largest stadium in the world.

Behind one of the derelict stands
Behind one of the derelict stands

The stadium currently lies mostly derelict with some local sports facilities housed beneath the stands on one side. AC Sparta Prague uses the vast playing area as a training ground which comprises 6 full size pitches and 2 pitches for futsal, a type of football.

Beneath the disused stand
Beneath the disused stand

The  architecture is quite typical of the era in which it was built. The large grandstands have used glass brick detailing to the concourses and tops of the stands. There is also a pleasant symmetry to the stands which are seemingly built on modernist principles. There is still a grand sense of elegance to the stadium despite its size and rapidly deteriorating state.

Strahov in better days from radio.cz

The problem with monumental structures such as the Strahov Stadium is what to do with them? Eastern Europe is littered with relics such as the Strahov from the Cold War era which have simply been left to rot or have been demolished. When a building of this type is seen as no longer relevant, what else can be done? Personally, I very much doubt it will see proper use as a stadium again but if there is no viable use for a structure of this size then the question must be asked: why should it be used again?

The wider point that I am trying to make is that a lot of people have sentimental attachments to buildings – you may have memories of a place and what it made you feel at the time but that is all they are: memories. If something doesn’t work for its original intended purpose then how can it continue to serve as anything other than a monument to itself?

 

Euro 2012 and Stadiums

Being a massive football fan, the European Championships is always a very exciting time and with wall to wall football for the next couple of weeks, I am set! With most of the focus on the pitch, people sometimes forget there is plenty to look at off the field.

Stadiums are exciting and electrifying places that bring thousands of people together and I have always been fascinated by them and the way they work and look.

When a new tournament comes to town there are always newly refurbished or newly built stadiums and Poland and Ukraine are no different. There are 8 host venues all together, 4 in each country.

Only 3 of the 8 venues existed before the tournament was awarded to Poland and Ukraine. These are the impressive but lopsided Municipal Stadium in Poznan, the refurbished Olympic stadium in Kyiv and the Metalist Stadium in Kahrkiv.

Newly refurbished Kyiv Olympic stadium courtesy of UEFA.com

The other 5 venues all were new builds varying in size, shape and look. They try to create a visual identity for the towns in which they are located, as stadiums are in many ways the icons of these towns.  The spectacle of the sport on the pitch would not be as great without the architecture that surrounds it: these stadiums are the stage on which some great moments are created.

Arena Gdansk supposedly resembles amber which is extracted on the Baltic coast
Donbass Arena in Donesk Ukraine Courtesy of UEFA.com

Over the next 3 weeks, these stadiums will be the focus of Europe if not most of the world and for the architects who designed them they must take great pride in seeing their work enjoyed and broadcast on such a big stage.

A problem with hosting these tournaments and huge events for the countries involved, as London may find in a couple of months time, is what happens when the football is over. Are the clubs that play in the stadiums able to sustain their futures in a viable venue? Only time will tell.

For more information on all of the venues please see:

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/season=2012/hostcountries/index.html

 

Pop Up Architecture

Whilst leafing through the pages of BD this week i came across this:

Folly For a Flyover, Hackney

Folly for a Flyover. It opened last night under the A12 motorway flyover by the Eastway in Hackney wick. It is set to be open for 6 weeks over the summer and will host a six week programme of cinema, performance and play, including boat tours, screenings and drop-in workshops.

I will be visting in a couple of weeks when i get the chance. But this is another example of pop up architecture which keeps on appearing across London.

Pop Up Architecture is a great idea as it takes, vacant or under used spaces and gives them a new lease of life, sometimes only for a few weeks at a time. So next time you see a vacant site in the city it could be playing host to the next temporary bar, restaurant, cinema or even shopping mall!

Boxpark Shopping Mall Shoreditch

For More information on either of these pop up projects check out:

http://www.follyforaflyover.co.uk/

and

http://www.boxpark.co.uk/

It’s been a long time

I have not posted for a long, long time. Part due to being busy (3rd year is hard!), and part due to being lazy. I am all done now, and have decided to pick this back up, mainly due to my fascination of talking about all things architecture and design related and i need a place to put all these thoughts.

Very Happy Me At The End Of Uni

So i will be posting again here again very soon about various things that interest me on the subject.

The Serpentine Gallery Pavillion 2010

This opened on the 13th of July with the Architect Jean Nouvel for this years pavillion giving a talk about his design.

The main thing to say about it is a very nice idea that has been poorly executed.  I will admit that i was a bit sceptical when i saw the renders of it, but i was willing to give it a chance.

When i saw it for the first time i was impressed at how it looked and how suprisingly well the red complimented the mostly green landscape around it.

The inspiration for the red colour comes from  british design icons such as London Buses andRoyal Mail post boxes.   The main idea behind it was to create a versatile and very useable space, i think he has done this  has  been done very well.

The dissapointing thing with this building is that on closer inspection the details of the building are clunky and also appear to have been rushed. It very much looks like the contractor ran out of time and everything was a little bit last minute. It just did not have the crisp smooth feel of SANAA’s pavillion last year, and as Mies Van Der Rohe famously said ‘god is in the details’.

I am sure it will prove very popular, as the space is very verastile and provides facilites for plenty of activities such as table tennis and and chess.

Maybe i am being too over critical, but for me the most important thing when designing a building is the little details. This is so that when you do get close up to it it still looks very good. This is only my opinion so go and check it out for yourself and let me know what you think!

Admission to the Pavilion is free
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2010
by Jean Nouvel
July – October 2010

Serpentine Gallery
Kensington Gardens
London W2 3XA
T 020 7402 6075

Nearest Tube: South Kensington or Lancaster Gate
Gallery open 10am to 6pm daily.

Images courtesy of  http://www.serpentinegallery.org

1:1 Architects Build Small Spaces

This exhibiton at the V&A is different from others. It makes people interact with real functioning  Architecture rather than just models, drawings and images.  In all there are 7 built peices by 7 different Architects spread across different levels of the museum. Each exhibit is vastly different to the last.

All of the exhibits are excellent bar one, which was the Ratatosk by Helen and Hard Architects. I found this to be more like a sculpture and quite uninspiring. The 2 pieces for me that stood out the most were In-Between Architecture by Studio Mumbai and Spiral Booths by Vazio S/A.

Sprial Booths is constructed mainly of steel and glass. It consists of a steel stair in the middle with different compartments coming off of it at different levels which face out into the main gallery space. These rooms are sectioned off by red velour curtains. So when it is viewed from the gallery floor it is something akin to to the red light district in Amsterdam. The structure is encased in a perforated steel mesh, so you can get a glimpse of what is going on inside inbetween the windows. This draws you towards it and makes you want to go in and find out what the space is about.

Spiral Booths

In-between Architecture is based on the tight narrow ‘unauthorised’ streets of Mumbai. These are streets that have developed without Architects in the slums and made from any scrap material that could be found. These slums draw in light from above, which is exactly what the exhibit does. It consists of a tight narrow corridor that opens up into a courtyard with spaces upstairs for contemplation and thought. We could not get into this one properly as it was closed for repairs, but we did sneak in for a couple of photos when nobody was looking! I may have to go back and check it out properly though.

In-Between Architecture

I also think it is worth mentioning Ark by Rintala Eggertsson Architects. It is like a giant piece of Ikea furniture, made out of pine and balsawood the shelves are stacked with thousands of books  it also  rather worringly sways back and forth as you get towards the top, but the space itself feels warm and intimate.

This is an exhibiton well worth visiting if you have the time, it is very comprehensive and also includes information on all of the submissions that did not get built, some of which are also quite fantastic. So run along as there is plenty of time to do so!  I have no idea what i am going to do next!

Until next time!

All the information on each of the exhibits can be found here:

http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/architecture/smallspaces/exhibition/Built%20Structures/index.html

The Exhibition runs until the 30th of August

Opening Times: 10.00 to 17.45 daily
10.00 to 22.00 Fridays

Nearest Tube: South Kensington

All images courtesy of www.vam.ac.uk

London South Bank Uni End of Year Show

After a rather long day of making my thumbs hurt helping pin up several peoples work and running back and forth between the always lovely Hackney and the not so lovely Elephant and Castle the LSBU end of year Architecture show opened lastnight. And i must say the tutors did a grand job of putting it all together (nothing to do with the free bar honest!)

BA work downstairs

It is a showcase of all the best work undertaken by Architecture students at the University ranging from first year BA Students all the way through to Post Grad Diploma students.

The work is spread across 2 floors of the Keyworth building at the University.  The ground floor exhibits mainly Diploma work and the 7th floor houses all of the BA work.  They are both well worth a look, with a variety of different and interesting projects on show all produced and presented to a very high standard. I do wonder how some of these students find the time to do the amount of work they do!

My own small corner

If you go along see if you can make sense of the Parametrics work on the ground floor, i don’t want to take away from the fact that it does look amazing but i don’t understand how it translates into good Architecture and a functioning building.  Anyway i don’t want to spoil for it for you, so go and check it for yourself out and see if you can spot my work.

Confusing Parametrics

Well thats my difficult first post out the way, i am off to the V&A this afternoon to check out the 1:1 Architects Build Small Spaces Exhibition, so come back to check out my thoughts on that in the very near future.

Until next time.

The exhibition is open to the public until Friday 2nd July (10am to 8pm).

Location: London South Bank University. Keyworth Centre. Keyworth Street. London SE1 6NG.

Nearest Tube: Elephant and Castle