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.

Ripped piece of paper under the microscope (100x magnification)

Here:

I included the 100x in the title, because that strikes me as not a lot of magnification, considering what it looks like. 100x is not that much more magnification than you can get with quite a lot of bridge cameras nowadays.

I’ve acquired a new camera, as noted in among this ramble yesterday. It has 60x. I wonder if I could persuade it to take photos like that. Probably not, because presumably microscopes get right up against what their microscoping, but cameras can’t do that.

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.

Modelled and graphic after-echoes of the Helter Skelter

In August I wrote here about the Helter Skelter that never was, in a posting that featured how it looked when they started (as they then thought) to build it. Well, in the course of rootling through the archives looking for a very different image, I came across several graphic after-echoes of this building. Even though it never got built, this non-building quickly achieved “iconic” status.

Here was the original idea (with apologies for all those hard-to-avoid patches of shininess), which I photoed at the Building Centre, which is in Store Street just off Tottenham Court Rd, in 2010:

Note how they were then unsure about whether to call this Big Thing the “Bishopsgate Tower” or “The Pinnacle”.

And, at the bottom of the verbiage on the right there, it says:

Status: Due for completion in 2011

But I photoed my photos of the early stages of “The Pinnacle” in November 2012. By then, London had decided that this Big Thing wasn’t going to be “The Pinnacle”, but rather the Helter Skelter, which is what it remains today, despite never actually having been built.

Soon after then, building ceased, and they started wondering what they could manage to do on that site, preferably without destroying those early Pinnacle stumps.

Nevertheless, in the big ongoingly updated model of London that they also have at the Building Centre, I took this photo of the City Big Things bit of the Model, in the summer of 2013. The Helter Skelter was by then known to be doomed, but it had yet to be removed from the Model …:

… , mainly, I guess, because they then had no clear idea what was going to go there instead.

The Helter Skelter is now long gone from this Model, because eventually they did decide what to put there instead. Now an even Bigger Thing is very nearly finished:

The Biggest Thing in that photo, photoed by me from Tower Bridge, and which also includes another photoer, is now called “22 Bishopsgate”, what with it being such a Lump that it doesn’t deserve a proper London name. But I am sure some suitably insulting moniker will be agreed upon by London for this Lump in due course, perhaps involving the word Lump.

Meanwhile, the Helter Skelter lives on, still, in 2019.

Here is a photo I took in Bermondsey this summer, advertising beer:

There’s the Helter Skelter, right in the middle, between the Gherkin and the Wheel.

And here is another even better relic of the Helter Skelter. This shop window graphic is a walk away from where I live, in Vauxhall Bridge Road. I keep expecting this graphic to be altered, but every time I go by this enterprise, there it still is, and there it remains, unless it has been updated during the last day or two:

Again, the Helter Skelter, between the BT Tower and the Shard.

How long will these relics last? I will certainly be keeping an eye on that last one, because I go past it every time I go shopping for food.

Poppies and tablets

Five years ago, to mark the centenary of the outbreak outbreak of World War 1, poppies surrounded the Tower of London

Like many others I photoed the poppies, and I photoed a few of those photoing the poppies.

Above are four poppy photos I photoed of photoers using tablets to do their photoing. The second is, I guess, the strangest one. But all it is is a man showing his wife (?) the photo that he has just photoed.

My impression is that tablets were used to photo at that time a lot more than they are now.

Or then again, it could just be that the number of photoers of these poppies was so huge that there were bound to be a few tablets on show. And by their nature (them being big) I noticed and photoed all the tablets that were being used in my vicinity. Maybe photoing with tablets was as rare then as it is now.

But, for whatever it may be worth or signify, I don’t think so.

There is nice history, of things like tablets and digital photoing. And there is not so nice history, of things like World War 1. We should pay respectful attention to both sorts of history, I think.

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.)

Mother Nature’s a bitch

Here is one of the Highly Commended (Plants and Fungi) photos in this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, photoed by Real Photographer Frank Deschandol:

On a night-time fieldtrip in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest, Frank spotted this bizarre-looking weevil clinging to a fern stem. Its glazed eyes showed it was dead, and the three antennae-like projections growing out of its thorax were the ripe fruiting bodies of a ‘zombie’ fungus.

Spreading inside the weevil while it was alive, the parasitic fungus had taken control of its muscles and compelled it to climb. Fuelled by the weevil’s insides, the fungus then started to grow fruiting bodies topped by capsules that would release a multitude of tiny spores to infect new prey. Similar fungi are known to parasitize other insects.

Gruesome.

I made this photo 1000 pixels across, as is my wont. This made the up-and-down pixel count … 666. Very appropriate.

Video of straight line going through curved gap

If I add all that href https blah blah stuff to the link, then I can put the link to this cute video here.

But if I just shove the address without any hrefery, I get the video right here:

Blog and learn. I just shoved up the link, and there it was! Here!

This is also fun. Although, it feels so fun it could be fake.

Queen Victoria backed by modernity

I love statues. Mostly, you don’t have the exact same one in several different spots, so when you see a familiar one, you know you are here and nowhere else.

And while checking out a statue near Blackfriars Station recently, I encountered another statue that I also like:

Photoing statues can be tricky, and I found this one particularly difficult. Very black and very shiny, lit by a sun that was crashing in from what seemed like entirely the wrong direction, was an awkward combination of circumstances, which made photoing Queen Vic’s face especially difficult. But, the outline comes out well enough.

Two of the photos, 5 and 9, have benefitted (or I hope they have) from a little post-production enhancement.

Photos 7 and 8 each feature a crane, and also the Oxo Tower. I like how the green of that container-office (7) echoes the green of the faraway tower. The crane is one of many working on the big London mega-sewer. Photo 9 features the tower of Tate Modern.

Because-Now-We-Can! architecture

You can seldom tell where an item of modern architecture is in the world just by looking at a photo or fake-photo of it. But, if you know your modern architecture, you can usually date it. This is because what look-at-me architecture looks like depends on what can, at any particular moment in architectural history, be done. When a new technique is devised, this new technique is used to make a kind of architecture that has not been seen before, and which hence attracts maximum attention.

Zaha Hadid is the firm that most perfectly exemplifies this latest phase of architectural modernity, because they are the people who have taken the latest new-thing-we-can-now-do to its most extreme limits:

Picture (hard to tell if it’s fake or real – guess: bit of both) found in this dezeen report on a new mega-airport in China.

What-we-can-now-do is keep track of lots of different bits and bobs in a building, so different that almost all these bits and bobs are unique in shape, with … computers. Time was when, if the Big Boss said: I want it to look like … this (draws weird shape on back of restaurant menu) there then followed a long to-and-fro argument between Big Boss and the Underlings (speaking on behalf of what is doable as opposed to merely dreamable), until the slightly weird but usually deeply disappointing and mis-shapen object finally appeared. Occasionally, something truly weird, like the Sydney Opera House, did emerge, looking remarkably like the back-of-the-restaurant-menu original. But, mostly the fantasy-versus-actually-doable back-and-forth took all the juice out of the original. It would have been simpler to scrap it and do something a bit more creative than usual with easily drawable and trackable rectangles.

Now? Big Boss can draw the weird shape, and then the massed slaves can duly construct the Big Thing, so that it really does look like the cover of a science fiction story.

Computers can now draw, and – crucially – redraw, anything. When a curve needs to change a bit, to fit in – I don’t know – some more luggage handlers or passport inspectors or a bigger private lair for airport surveillance creeps – the computer can redraw the new design, as re-ordained by the Big Boss on the back of another restaurant menu, in seconds. That kind of rejigging used to take months and frankly, couldn’t be done without costs crashing through the weirdly but in the end rather disappointingly shaped roof.

Give it a few years, and this Because-Now-We-Can! style will look horribly passé. For many, I’m guessing it already does. But for now, we now build buildings like this … because now we can!