Paris photographique

At the old blog, it was quota photos. Now it’s quota galleries, because they’re so easy to do (at least compared to how hard they used to be to do). And just as I didn’t expect you to expend any more time than you felt like expending on those quota photos, so I don’t expect you to even glance at all these photos, unless you want to. So, click click click:

All of the above photos were photoed in Paris, on May 5th of last year, when I was passing through on my way back from Brittany to London. The weather was stupendous. Not a cloud to be seen. I love how weather like that, when combined with light coloured buildings and the automatic setting on my camera, turns the sky blue-black.

There’s a bit of a bias towards roof clutter. Well, this is Paris. And Paris is famous, even among normal people who don’t usually care about roof clutter, for its roof clutter.

Good night. It has been tomorrow for quite some time.

Battersea gallery

Yesterday evening I walked over to Battersea, to see how things are going with surrounding the old Power Station with apartment blocks, with sorting out the western end of London’s Big New Sewer, and constructing a new tube station.

In the photos that follow, I concentrate on the new blocks of flats, not least because it is easier to see that, what with it having reached the stage of mostly now being above ground. Tube line and sewer construction remains largely hidden throughout, and in general they tend to be more secretive about such things.

So how are things going with all those flats? How things are going is that there is a lot of building going on, but also, already, a lot of living.

The earliest photos in this gallery show the part where they say: come on it. This is already a place, with people, and food, and a road through to other parts beyond. Then, you walk along one of the oddest bridges in London, over and through what is still a giant building site, right next to the old Power Station, and then you arrive at the bit that is finished and already containing people.

None of the photos that follow are individually that fascinating. But click, click, click your way through them at speed, and you’ll get an idea of how this passing moment in the history of London is now looking:

The photos that concentrate on life being lived, rather than merely dwellings being constructed, concern the London Seafood Festival (that being the only link I now have the time to contrive), which I had definitely not been expecting. But many others had, and were gathered in large numbers to partake.

Then I made my way to Battersea Park railway station, with the last two photos having been photoed from the train that took me to Victoria Station on the other side of the river.

My larger point is this: that the newest and most noticeable London architecture has now done a switch, from the erection of individually crafted and highly visible and recognisable Big Things, to the mass production of generic Machines For Living In and Machines For Working In. So many office blocks and blocks of flats of a certain height, all jammed together in a formerly not so very desirable location, each higher than low but each lower than really high. So much concrete and steel being hoisted into the air by so many cranes. And so many people all being crammed into these new dwellings and new workplaces, as they beaver away at their desk jobs nearby or in The City, and relax by the river in their numerous new eateries and drinkeries down on the ground floors. Yes, this kind of thing has been going on in London for many decades, but just lately, it has shifted up a gear.

That all these new Batterseans will be within walking and face-to-face talking distance of one another is bound to have creative consequences. All sorts of new urban possibilities will become possible.

A lot more of this stuff has been happening out East, in Docklands and beyond. There too (see especially: North Greenwich) things have shifted up a gear. Battersea feels a bit more upmarket than those places down East.

Welcome to the latest version of London.

Canonbury Tower

My photo-archive tells me that just over two years ago, in March of 2017, I photoed this photo, of Canonbury Tower:

Both ancient and modern, if you get my meaning. Probably built in the early 1500s, but to the casual eye it could be far more recent.

Photos by Pip Howeson, which include lots of the interior details, makes the antiquity of this tower block very clear. But you can photo many genuinely modern towers from Canonbury Tower. Here’s a slice of Howeson’s panoramic view from the top of it, of the centre of London:

You can only explore this building on two pre-arranged days each month, which is presumably why Howeson had to make do with weather that he might not have chosen. But a Big Thing spotter like me can still tick off all the names.

miwhip?

This afternoon, on my way north from South Ken tube, I encountered these golden little vehicles:

It says “miwhip” on them. Who or what is that? I used to be content to just not know such things, and to forget I ever asked. But this is the age of the internet, in fact it has been for some while, as perhaps you have noticed. And the internet soon obliged.

It seems that “miwhip” is an Uber-challenger, and that if you are lucky, when you whisle up one of the above vehicles, you might instead find yourself travelling in one of these:

The best thing I read in the Evening Standard piece linked to above is that miwhip say they’ll pay their hirelings at the end of each day. If you have any friends hacking away at the coalface that is the gig economy, you’ll know how important that promise is. Provided, of course, that they keep it.

Quota gallery of Carnaby Union Jack photos

“Gallery” being the way I now do those little clutches of photos that I’m so fond of doing.

Here one I photoed (x4), in a place in London that now apparently calls itself “Carnaby”. Last I heard, which was about thirty years ago, there was only Carnaby Street. But now the name has spread, thanks to all the name recognition that has attached itself to “Carnaby”, over the years.

Sticking those four photos up here is about as complicated as sticking up just one photo on the old blog. Whereas on the old blog, this would take about a quarter of a day. So, I’m a happier blogger than I was. And that is bound to mean that all you massed ranks of readers of this blog will get happier, because happiness is contagious. And you will be happier for a more tangible reason, which is that you can now click on one of these photos, and then click on the arrows at the side to see all the others, with just three more clicks.

As for the sparkly Thing itself, well, I like it a lot. Ever since the Scottish Referendum, when it looked like the Union Jack could be about to die, I have admired the Union Jack itself. Actually, way before then, but especially from then on. It’s suck a distinctive thing, and will survive endless reworking and reinterpretation.

What four friends told me about their experiences of architecture

I’m giving a talk about architecture, to the first of Christian Michel’s 6/20 gatherings next year, on Jan 6. By way of preparation, instead of just thinking about it all for myself, I am soliciting strongly felt architectural opinions and experiences from friends and acquaintances. I could go on the internet to seek such stuff, but internet discussions on any particular topic tend to be by a self-selected group with a particular axe to grind. I seek a collection of axes, so to speak. Lots of angles. Lots of agendas.

In this posting, I will record the opinions and recollections along these lines that I have collected, basically so I don’t forget them. So far there have four. Here are these four, in chronological order of them being told to me.

First, a friend who vehemently objected to the way that modern buldings are not built to last. Why tacky boxes that get ripped down after thirty years? Why not stuff like they used to build, that hangs around for hundreds of years, like Quinlan Terry still builds?

Second, another friend, married to the friend above, a rather high-powered nurse and manager of nurses, who has had experience working with architects on new healthcare buildings. She spoke in particular of a design for a new mental hospital, which contained, she said, several suicide opportunities built into it. Since suicide in such places is very spur-of-the-moment and opportunistic, this was inviting a regular trickle of such disasters. What my friend hated and despised was not the original design as such, but the refusal of its perpetrators to change it, once the above had been explained to them. These architects, said my friend, were more interested in getting awards from other architects than they were in designing a good building which did the job required. She kept on repeating the bit about them being “more interested in awards”.

Third, a newly acquired friend now based in London but who grew up in Dublin. He spoke about a Dublin terrace, long and elegant, violated by some electrical techies who needed a switching station. Instead of hiding their damn switching station behind the facade of the terrace, as they well could have, they insisted on bashing a gap into it, to insert their modernistical box of tricks. It was quite a cause celebre when this all happened, although I’ve not been able to track it down on the internet.

Fourth, and last so far, a friend who recalled a recent visit to Budapest. She loved it, with its tall apartment buildings, with their frontages all beautifully and individually designed, in antique or art nouveau styles, early in the twentieth century. It took her back to her childhood in Bucharest, where they had just the same kind of urban housing. Until Ceausescu smashed in all into oblivion to make way for his fascistic monstrosities.

The above experiences and recollections have in common that they involved huge anger as well as plenty of intelligent thought. Two of the four involve the destruction or desecration of old buildings, and the first is about the refusal to build in an antique style in the first place.

The second, about the award-seeking mental hospital designers, is a bit different. Modernism prides itself on being functional, but is often not functional. My sense is that things have been getting better in this respect. (They could hardly have got worse.) But if the above anecdotage is in any way typical, then there’s clearly room for improvement.

Brian Micklethwait’s New Blog starts now

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog – this was the final posting there

And this blog stops now.

Not before time. For many years it has been too slow, too clunky and just too all round ridiculous. More recently, and longer ago than I care to think about, (my management of) the comment system went to hell, as I’m sure you noticed.

So, time for a new blog, and here it is. As of now, all new personal blogging by me goes there, and quite a lot of the old personal blogging done by me here has also started going there too, so that if I want to link back to it, nobody has to endure coming back to here.

I’ve hardly mentioned this new blog here, until now. A new blog is not something you want to be promising endlessly, before it finally gets going, far later than you had been promising. You just need to get it ready, taking as long as that takes, and then launch it, and then tell people about it, just as I’m telling you now.

Not that the new blog has been perfected before its launch. It has merely been – please allow me this neologistical verb – adequated. Many tweaks and improvements, both in working and in appearance, will surely follow, especially given that my good friend Michael Jennings set up the new blog for me, and will surely continue to take – not a “proprietorial” (that would be me), but you know what I mean – interest in its workings. My thanks to him, in advance for any future help and for all the work he’s already done.

My thanks to Patrick Crozier who started this blog up for me, many years ago when it wasn’t ridiculous, and to The Guru (he knows who he is) for all the help he has given me over the years, keeping this blog afloat when it would otherwise have sunk without trace.

So, goodbye, hello and welcome.

Quota photo of a signpost

Yes, I like to photo signposts. You know where you are, with signposts.

Here’s a signpost photo I photoed in March 2012:

But there’s more to it than just having a note of where I was, useful though that is. There’s something about actually seeing those particular names of particular places which makes the fact that this is where I really am – and then later: was – come particularly alive.

As you can tell from the previous paragraph, I don’t really know how to explain this fascination of mine. And just now, I am too knackered, having spent the day recovering from a Last Friday of the Month meeting that happened last night. Dominique Lazanski: very good. My front room: very full. Aftermath: lots of crap to tidy up.

Yesterday was a day when I had to be very energetic and alive, to get ready for that meeting. So, I was. (Hence those four blog postings yesterday.) Today, I could be knackered. So, I was.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Nuclear Rabbits From Outta Space?

On June 13th 2008 I was wandering about in Quimper, photoing photos. Mostly the photos were of such things as Quimper Cathedral with its twin spires, photoers photoing Quimper Cathedral with its twin spires, that kind of thing.

But in among all those, and with no accompanying explanation (like a context photo with less zoom (memo to self: always photo a context photo if it might help)), this:

KanaBeach seems to be some sort of Brittany based clothing brand (“Kanabeach est une entreprise de vêtements bretonne”), which a few years later seems to have crashed and burned, after which catastrophe it may or may not have made a recovery. (A recovery attempt which involved a giraffe, for some reason.)

But, I have no idea who Jean-Francois Kanabeach is. And I am similarly baffled by the Nuclear Rabbits From Outta Space. Google’s basic reaction to that was, first off, to ask if I meant “Nuclear Rabbits From Outer Space”.

A rabbit was, so it says here, launched into space in 1959. And the Chinese did some stuff on the Moon in 2013, with something called the Jade Rabbit (aka Yutu). But Nuclear Rabbits, from Outta Space? Quesque c’est? Usually the Internet has something to say in answer to questions like this. But in this matter, rien.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog