A new Zaha Hadid Architects railway station in Tallin

The perversely lower-case lettered throughout designboom reports that “zaha hadid architects” have won a competition to build a railway station in “tallin”, which will look like this:

At the top of all this is a bridge, so I’m well disposed towards this Thing straight away.

Transport seems especially to suit ZHA. Recall that they are also doing that amazing airport in China.

It’s something to do with the fact that transport positively demands the kind of flowing curves that ZHA always want to do anyway. A train or a plane simply cannot do too sharp a turn. These vehicles simply must shift direction with slow, ZHA type, curves. So, the ZHA style fits. Even a car has to slow down a lot to do a ninety degree turn. Even in the rectilinear architectural sixties, roads would curve, when changing direction. (Think of those amazing motorway intersections.)

Sad, then, that this particular clutch of railway lines in Tallin seems to be dead straight. I bet ZHA ground their collective teeth about that. The ZHA curvilinear style suits curvey railway lines, but a straight railway line (or for that matter a straight airport runway) can do what nothing else in the known universe can. It can enforce straight lines upon ZHA.

Lady photoers in 2013

Once again, I am catching up with showing you photos, this time photos photoed on a sunny day in September 2013, all of lady photoers. We are in my most regular photoing-photoers places, outside Westminster Abbey, outside Parliament, on Westminster Bridge and beyond, beside or above the River:

Ignore, click through at speed, linger if any seem worth lingering at, whatever you want.

What I see in these photos is a moment of maximum camera variety. There are big cameras with interchangeable lenses for maximum photo quality. There are bridge cameras, like the ones I use. There are little snappy-snappy but still dedicated cameras. There is even a great big tablet. And, of course, we observe the rise and rise of mobile phone photoing. As usual, I demanded facial anonymity, sometimes photoshop(clone)-cropping out recognisable bystanders. But typically, I cropped with the camera, because by then I had become pretty good at this. (Photo 4, for instance, is exactly as originally photoed.) And then I selected for artistic effect, not to make any point about cameras. Which means that the point about camera variety is made. I wasn’t going for this. It just happened.

Since then, all the major effort seems to have gone into making mobile phone cameras as good as they can be.

Lady photoer on tour bus

We are on Westminster Bridge, in October of 2017, and a tour bus comes by. The lady photoer first photos the Wheel, and then turns her attention around, towards Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament:

I especially like the light and the colours in these photos. The Wheel is in front of a dark cloud background, but is itself lit up just that bit more by the afternoon sun, because behind us the weather is brighter. The colours of the bus go very well with all that. And the railing on the bus provides facial anonymity when her camera does not. I know what she looks like, from other photos I photoed of her. But I am not telling the big computer in the sky that she was doing what she was when she was. That’s her business, not the BC’s.

Creatures hitting the news in the USA

I’m not just talking about the hero dog who helped to catch an austere religious scholar, whose austere religious scholarship inspired him also to become a rapist and a torturer.

I’m also talking about goats:

A hungry herd of 500 goats has helped save the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library from the California wildfires.

In May, the library hired the goats to clear flammable scrub surrounding the complex as a preventative measure.

The goats ate the brush, creating a fire break that slowed the flames and gave firefighters extra time to react.

Okay, the goats didn’t exactly put the fire out. That was done by firefighters. But, the goats did help.

This next titbit is a bit stale, from two months ago, but I am still interested, because it concerns a bridge:

Engineers in southern California are hard at work designing the biggest wildlife corridor in the world, to extend over US Highway 101 to the north-west of Los Angeles.

The corridor will connect different parts of the Santa Monica Mountain chain, which is crucial to the future of mountain lions – but it will help other species as well. The $87m bridge has entered its final design phase and is on track to open in 2023.

Other Californian creature news involved voracious purple sea urchins:

Tens of millions of voracious purple sea urchins that have already chomped their way through towering underwater kelp forests in California are spreading north to Oregon, sending the delicate marine ecosystem off the shore into such disarray that other critical species are starving to death.

Meanwhile in Colorado, some 66-million-year-old fossils have been discovered. I’m guessing something threw their delicate ecosystem into disarray.

The delicate publication process for this posting was also thrown into disarray, by me pushing the “Publish” button last night, at a time when I should merely have been pressing “Save Draft”. Sorry about that.

Helicopter photos of London

Incoming from 6k:

Hi Brian

Hi 6k.

Hope you’re well.

I am, and likewise. Although, I usually know how you are, because you often blog about this subject. My recent favourite in this genre was the one where you included a chart of your stress levels for an entire day when there was a football match in the evening, involving your team.

Been a while since I’ve been in touch, but I am (of course) still reading BMNB dot com every day.

Good, good.

I only had to look at the title of this one – London’s Imperfect Geometry Revealed in Aerial Photography by Bernhard Lang – to know that I had to send it your way: enjoy!

Given 6k’s keenness on photoing with a drone, I half expected these aerial photos of London to be drone-photos also. But I guess it makes just as much sense to use a helicopter, given the amount of grief you’d surely get if you launched a drone into London’s sky. For starters, you can’t go within a kilometer of an airport, which rules out a big chunk of London near to London City Airport.

If you want to, make a start on drone law by reading this.

Meanwhile, my favourite of Herr Lang’s snaps was, of course, this, with all its bridges:

I make it eight of them.

My personal record is seven bridges, and all of my seven bridges are to be seen in the above photo by Lang. Only the nearest bridge (Waterloo Bridge) in his photo is missing from my photo. Not only that, but Lang’s photo also includes the spot where I did my photoing from, in the bottom left corner of his photo. This was the top of the Hotel ME, which is at the western end of the D that is made by The Strand and The Aldwych. Follow the link to my earlier posting at the start of this paragraph and you’ll also encounter a map which shows this. 6k thought I’d enjoy, and he was not wrong.

I’m not sure I agree about London’s geometry being “imperfect”. I know what this means, but it is these very “imperfections” that distinguish great cities from boring ones. Rectangular grids make for urban uniformity. “Imperfections” make a city far more interesting. But that’s a whole other posting.

Tasting the sunshine out east last August

Yes, last summer I went on several exeditions to such places as the Dome, and beyond. Here is a clutch of photos I photoed in the beyond category. On August 11th, I journeyed to the Dome, then took the Dangleway across the River to the Victoria Docks, and walked along the north side of them, ending my wanderings at the City Airport DLR station:

There are two of these favourite sculptures to be seen, in Photo 7 and Photo 11.

There are 35 photos in all. I think maybe my favourite is 33, which includes an advert that says: “OH REALLY?” I like that, for some reason.

Photo 27 has a sign, on the side of the Tate & Lyle factory, saying “TASTE THE SUNSHINE”. It was a very sunny day. I count three that include shadow selfies (23, 24, 31).

It is so much easier doing this kind of thing than it was at The Old Blog. (My thanks yet again to Michael J, who did this new blog for me.)

Photoers in 2003

All the photos below were taken some time during 2003. I don’t know the exact date, because either my then camera couldn’t remember such things, or I didn’t tell it to remember this particular thing. Probably the latter. (Yes, the latter. Other photos taken later with the same camera do have dates attached.)

Photoers, of course, in and around Westminster – the Abbey, Parliament Square, the Bridge:

All those clunky old cameras, with their tiny screens. And vast and elaborate video cameras. There’s even one (photo 9) where the camera bit does the twiddling, and the screen is part of the main body of the camera, where all the sums are done, an idea that came but then went.

Not a mobile phone to be seen.

Categories for this include “Food and drink” and “Signs and notices”, because pancakes, and signs about pancakes, are involved (photos 6 and 7).

You can already see me worrying about not showing faces, often by letting the camera block out the photoer’s face (photos 4, 7, 10, 12), or just by photoing the photoer from behind (photos 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 9).

My clunky old camera with a tiny screen was a Canon A70. Which I still remember with pleasure even though the screen didn’t twiddle.

LATER: I realise that I have labelled all these photoers “PhotoersApril2004”, but this was before I realised that (because of other photos in the same batch of directories) they had to be earlier than that. Whatev, as the young folks say nowadays. (Good word that, I think.)

An eccentric form of transport

I’m always on the lookout for eccentric forms of transport, and I especially liked this one, which I spotted on Blackfriars Bridge this afternoon:

In the background, Blackfriars railway (station) bridge, and beyond that, the Shard, Tate Modern Tower, Tate Modern Extension.

This is, I think, one of those electrically assisted bikes, by which I mean pedals and a motor of some sort.

I looks too big and heavy to have much of a maneuverability advantage in heavy traffic. But at least the thing must have been quite cheap to buy. So the guy can start earning his living without too much saving up. I’m guessing this is the saving up bit. Good luck to him.

I used to go biking round Europe with a small tent and sleeping bag on the back. With a gizmo like this I could have carried a far grander tent and really lived in some style. But, rather inconvenient.

Exploring The City: Monument thoughts

When I say exploring, I mean three kinds of exploring, rather than just the one. The “just the one” is going there, and taking photos. But the second is finding things out from the Internet about the various things I saw and photoed. And the third is exploring my photo-archives for related photos that I photoed during earlier explorations.

Here’s an internet discovery of what the place I was exploring looked like, in (guess) the late eighteenth century:

That image is one of a collection of images to be found at the top of the Website for the Parish and Pilgrimage Church of St Magnus the Martyr in the City of London.

At the back there, the Monument, and the church of St Magnus the Martyr. Note how you also see three other church spires, and a rather distant church tower. In those days, churches dominated the London skyline.

Here another Monument image, this time one which I photoed in the vicinity of the Monument, yesterday:

At the top of that, beyond, you can just about make out a horizontal slice of the Monument itself.

I’ve obviously been up this London Big Thing, but not very recently. Now, I want to look more closely at how this London Big Thing looked, when it first arrived on the scene:

I’m sure there are plenty of references to God and how he should bless and receive into heaven, or wherever, all the people who perished in the Great Fire of London, at the base of the Monument.

Nevertheless, I wonder if The Monument was actually some sort of turning point for London architecture, in the sense that it is very tall, but not a place of worship. The Monument, from the moment it was built, was what is nowadays called a “visitor attraction”. It works by allowing people to climb up a big staircase inside to a viewing platform at the top, from which anyone who cared to make this effort could then gaze down upon London, and its many churches. No worshipping involved, unless you want it to be.

Until the Monument, I’m guessing that the last place of non-worship to dominate the London skyline so forcefully was the Tower of London.

The Monument must have caused quite a stir when it first appeared. Did some people then think it was an eyesore? (A major function of blogging, for me, is that it records questions. That’s one I don’t want to forget.)

And if the Monument was thought of by some to be an eyesore, did this make it easier for people later to argue for taller – also secular – buildings in its vicinity, the aesthetic and spiritual damage already having been done? Like the Guy’s Hospital Shard story, only this time for the entire City of London.

To bring the story up to date, here’s a photo I photoed a while back of The Monument and its immediate surroundings, from the top of the Walkie Talkie:

The Monument and St Magnus are still a bit taller than their immediate surroundings, which are nevertheless pretty bulky. But as for the Walkie Talkie, and the other Big Things beyond, it’s definitely a case of The Monument being dwarfed by modernity.

Here’s another photo of The Monument, this time from the Top of the Tate Modern Extension:

Again, dwarfed by modernity.

Walkie Talkie on the left there, behind the red crane. And since we have a crane there, here’s a roof clutter photo, also feature the top of the Monument:

Photoed from the other side of the River also. Don’t get me wrong, I love this kind of alignment/juxtaposition, as regulars here will know. But, that’s how little the view of the Monument from any sort of distance now matters to London’s aesthetic overlords.

A bridge in Serbia with an office and a hotel on it

Dezeen reports on this new bridge, to be built in Serbia:

Every time a bridge like this gets proposed (or even built), with architecture on it, however bland and boring it is, I rejoice that the day comes a bit nearer when such a bridge will get built somewhere in London downstream and east, in the vicinity of the Thames Barrier, or maybe further east than that. I don’t care where exactly.

The thing is, there don’t seem to be that many big bridges, for things like motorways and high speed trains, being built these days. The big news is in small bridges, like this one for instance. So, any bridge that any city does now manage to build is sure of a lot of attention. And if something like the old London Bridge got built again, downstream, bigger, that would definitely get lots of attention, to a part of London which is, as of now, dangerously bland and anonymous. All brand new machines for living in. Not much in the way of eye-catching picture postcard fodder. A bridge with architecture on it would really liven things up.

It should be big enough to have a viewing platform on it, nice and high up, to look upstream at central London from.

By the way, I just found out you can actually visit this model of old London Bridge, in a church, in The City. I saw it on television a few weeks ago and just googled it now. Blog and learn.

Expect photos.