23 February 2016

London's architectural icons

'Icon' and 'iconic' are often-repeated words these days, usually used to describe new buildings that are very tall and shouty – ooh look at me... try avoiding me! Often the word is applied before the building is completed; it will be the biggest/tallest/pointiest/greenest/glassiest/etc
Perhaps the developers are using the word in the sense of those religious icons you can buy in the backstreets of Naples; the ones you add to a shrine or put on your mantlepiece? In which case those little souvenirs of The Eiffel Tower would fit the bill if architecture was your god of choice.
In the same way as a community can't just be created by bulldozing streets of small houses and putting up tower blocks with chain restaurants and homogenous coffee bars on the ground floor, I think icons, in the sense of architecture, are made over time and thus earn their iconic label.
I wrote about Centrepoint last year and it features in the ten pics below of London landmarks I believe have become iconic – tall, sometimes inspiring, structures that have become mostly well-loved points of reference; some as landmarks, others as architectural statements. 

This doesn't need captioning; these structures ought to be easily-identified by any Londoner

16 February 2016

Beachcombing at Blackfriars

Here are some pics from last October when I met up with a few friends under Blackfriars Bridge for what I call A Forage on the Foreshore.

I particularly liked the time-weathered large wooden stump. I thought finding a beached comb was rather ironic.
As you may be aware, I am always on the lookout for fragments of nicely eroded clay pipe stems for my jewellery – we also picked up various pipe bowls from different periods of history – note the different sizes and shapes in the pic. Malcolm found one with flowers on it – I now wonder if these are roses and it could have been from The Rose Theatre which was nearby...?

Click here for an account of previous gathering.

9 February 2016

Holland House in The City

Continuing on from last Thursday's post...

Holland House, 1-4 Bury Street, London EC3A 5AT.
This was the first steel framed buildingto be constructed in in Europe and ooh... I love it...
One hundred years ago, who'd have known that the windows on this beautifully-designed office building would one day reflect one of The City's most iconic glass buildings...?
Holland House was built during WW1. It was designed by the Dutch architect H. P. Berlage for the Rotterdam-based William H Müller & Co; a shipping and ore-mining company working out of Spain and North Africa – this is is shown by the wonderful stylised granite sculpture by J Mendes Da Costa of a ship powering through the waves on the rear corner of the building opposite Cunard Place.
These four pics show details of the lobby/reception area at the front of the building designed in the Art Deco style by Bart Van Der Leck featuring fabulous tiles, mosaics, metalwork and lighting.
Apart from a lovely art deco staircase leading down to the basement, the entrance at the rear has not retained the original features, and looks really bland in comparison.
The whole building is clad in hand-made dark eau-de-nil coloured tiles. I love the way the windows are obliterated when one walks along the pavement; only the columns of tiles can be seen, making a wonderful geometric pattern. 
Pic2 shows a glimpse of the mahogany panelled offices on the first floor using wood reclaimed/stripped from Muller's ships.
At the rear (pic3) there are some lovely balconied tiers.

See also Summit House on Red Lion Square – built a few years later in a similar style – solid, beautiful functionality and classic no-messing design.

4 February 2016

Art In The City, St Mary Axe and The Gherkin

Last weekend I finally found time to go and see [most of] the art installations in and around The Gherkin At St Mary Axe.

Ai Weiwei's bicycle rack and Damien Hirst's donation's box
Tomoaki Suzuki's little people and Keita Miyazaki's car parts.
I was also interested by other things that were not part of the trail; a sobbing woman near the air filters and a drain full of fag ends in Lime Street.
Near the Hirst piece a bollard made from a cannon can be found.

Every time I visit the Gherkin, love it as I do, after all, it may be the only truly beautiful and beautifully designed glass structure made in the past twenty years, I am always distracted by the rhythmic solidarity of Holland House across the road in Bury Street.
But I will save that for another day...