One Kemble Street from the ME Hotel

As regulars here know, I am very fond of Richard Seifert‘s One Kemble Street (that link will now get you to this posting again but keep scrolling down). I am fond of One Kemble Street because of its repetitively yet I think elegantly sculpted outside walls but chaotic roof clutter topping. One of Seifert’s best. (His worst was concrete monstrosity at its most monstrous.)

Here’s another good photo of One Kemble Street that I found in the archives, photoed in September of 2016, from the top of the ME Hotel.

Three distinct bits of roof clutter there, on top of One Kemble Street, at a lower level between One Kemble Street and the ME Hotel, and in the foreground on top of the ME Hotel itself.

As you can also see from this photo of One Kemble Street and the ME Hotel taken from the upstairs balcony of the Royal Festival Hall, there’s a very good view of One Kemble Street from the ME Hotel, round the back.

Had Seifert designed the British Library, it would have looked very different.

A little shipspotting

A little bit of spotting I mean. The ship itself was rather big.

Remember this map, showing where I went walking from Maze Hill station to YOU ARE HERE, and then went north to the Dome:

The original idea of that posting was to say where I was, and then tell you about something rather interesting I saw from that spot. But by the time I had finished rambling on about the sign of which the above map was a part, I already had an entire posting, about the sign.

But yes, there I was at YOU ARE HERE, and rather than concentrating all my attention on the view of where I was about to go, I also looked west. Here’s what I saw:

That’s right, one of those huge and impossibly top-heavy-looking cruise ships.

I tried to think when I had ever seen such a vessel in London before. I have a very vague recollection of having once such a thing, maybe, but nothing for sure. Well, well.

I then turned right and north, and in among all the photos I took on my way north, I occasionally looked back at this ship:

Those being the same photo, one of the last I took, with, on the right, the bit of the photo on the left which shows the actual ship slightly more clearly.

And this was the very last photo I took of her, maximum zoom:

With that, I took a turn inland, dictated by the path I was following, and I saw no more of her.

When I got home, I became curious about this ship. Name? I look a closer look at one of my photos above, and found this:

The Viking Jupiter. So, basically, that would be: Wotan. Just kidding. Viking’s the line, Jupiter’s the name. Fair enough. Just because an ancient (in both senses) historian might get angry about saddling a bunch of Norsemen with a Roman god, that doesn’t mean anyone else has to fret about this.

Then, in an inspired move, I wondered what Google Maps would have to say about the spot where I saw this ship. Here’s what came up:

And in particular, closer-up, this:

So, not just a pier of some sort, an actual ship. This would appear to be a regular London thing, with a regular pier for the ship to attach itself to in a regular spot.

Google google. Here is a map of the cruise that the Viking Jupiter was about to embark upon:

I had always thought that ships like this confined themselves to places like the West Indies or the Mediterranean. London? Liverpool? Apparently so.

Yet again, what I observed, and photoed with much pleasure, was something I would not dream of purchasing myself. Cruising on a big and over-decorated cruise ship like this is absolutely not my kind of thing. If they paid me £6,340 to do a cruise like this, I might even turn that down. (Probably not, but maybe.) But, I rejoice that London is part of this business.

I was there on the afternoon of July 29th, and “departure” was supposedly the 28th. But I think that may have meant the day when you had to leave your home in the UK, get to London and check in on the ship.

Photo and learn. Blog and learn.

New category, long overdue: maps.

I now rather regret that I didn’t scrap my original plan and turn left, and take a much closer look at this ship. Maybe next year.

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.

“This world needs more eyesores, more carbuncles …”

Or to put it another way:

London’s new Tulip skyscraper is great, but why aren’t more people embedding sharks in their roof?

Well, I can think of quite a few answers to that question, but I get the point that Joel Dimmock is making and I like it very much.

Is there starting to be a hum, as the late Chris Tame used to call it, in favour of people being free to build whatever crazy buildings they want to build with their own money on their own property?

One of the more interesting facts about the quotes quoted above is that they appear in The Independent. Okay, in the “Voices” (clickbate?) section, but still, The Independent. Is The Independent starting to be in favour of … independence?

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

The new Greenwich Peninsula

My expedition to check out the Optic Cloak got me appreciating the new version of the Greenwich Peninsula, the post-Dome version, that is now taking shape.

Here is a picture of it, one of those computer fake photo things:

The Optic Cloak is an invisible smudge of grey, just after the C of OPTIC and just above the K of CLOAK. That’s because this picture is not about the truth as such, but about new tall buildings, and the Optic Cloak, although quite tall, is not a building, so, in this picture, it is ignored.

However, what the above photo does show is the big double-barrelled road which takes traffic into and from the Blackwall Tunnel. And you get a great look at this mighty traffic artery if you climb up onto a footbridge that takes you over it. Over it if, for instance, you are walking south from North Greenwich tube station, in order to get a closer-up view, from the West, across the big road, than you’d get otherwise, of the Optic Cloak, as I was when I went there, however many weeks ago it was.

You can just about make out this footbridge in the picture above, just above and to the right of the C of COPTIC.

Here are a couple of photos that I photoed of this footbridge:

And here are a couple of views from it, of the Optic Cloak:

But I especially liked the sort of views you get from this footbridge, looking north, towards the Blackwall Tunnel:

Most of the towers in the distance there are across the river, in Docklands, and already that view, as you approach the Blackwall Tunnel is quite something. As the Greenwich Peninsula itself fills up with more towers, it will look even more mini-Manhattan-ish.

Here are photos I took from the bridge of a couple of interesting vehicles, going north (left) and south (right):

Plus, here is a close-up of that roof clutter, in the left hand of the two looking north photos, above:

This roof clutter makes a point, as do those two views looking north, and the traffic. This new Greenwich Peninsula has the feeling of old-school work getting done, just as I presume the old one had. Stuff that really hurts if you drop it on your foot is being made, modified, bought and sold, in this particular part of London, just as it always was. Noxious gasses and fluids are being propelled hither and thither, in pipes and cans and lorries. You get the feeling that this isn’t going to stop any time soon, the way it has in Docklands.

It could just be all that Blackwall Tunnel traffic thundering by which gives off that feeling. However, I don’t think so, if only because the thundering traffic creates the sort of place where the Financial Services Industry wouldn’t want to be.

Here, finally, is the kind of close-up of the Optic Cloak that I had come for …:

.. with a lorry roaring by, full of noxious fluid.

There can be no higher praise for the Optic Cloak than to say that it fits right in with all this hustle and bustle and noise. Indeed, it dominates it. It presides contentedly over it. Most “Art” in such a place would look ridiculous.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

The Park Hotel seen from the park

The Park Tower Knightsbridge Hotel is what Wikipedia calls it. Sheraton now calls it the Sheraton Park Hotel. Whatever we call it, this is one of my favourite London buildings from the concrete monstrosity era, partly because nobody who worries about being aesthetically elevated likes the work of its architect Richard Seifert. Such people also do not like One Kemble Street, or Centre Point, also by Seifert, either. Too commercial. Too brash. Too assertive. Too symmetrical. Starchitecture before Starchitecture became chic, and not chic enough.

All the photos you see on the internet of this Park Hotel tend to look like this …:

… i.e. photoed from nearby, so that you can’t see the magnificence of the Roof Clutter on the top.

So now I will correct this regrettable imbalance, by inserting these views of the Park Hotel photoed by me last Friday from way off in the middle of Hyde Park, into the vast ocean of internet imagery, in the hope that public attention will be drawn to this wonderful and spontaneous assemblage of roof sculpture:

I especially like that last one. Trees, mist, and then Park Hotel, in soft focus. Or, out of focus, as we digital snappers say.

Norman castles were evil stone monstrosities when first inflicted upon this green and pleasant land. But as that style retreated, they turned into picturesque ruins. The Concrete Monstrosity style is already in headlong retreat, and I like it more and more.

Memo to self: check out this car park, before they destroy it, which they have now decided that they will.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Early views of the Optic Cloak

Last Thursday afternoon, I emerged from North Greenwich tube/DLR station, and started getting my bearings. Dome right here, there, so that’s north, so south is the other way, and somewhere around there ought to be the Big Thing itself, called (it has to be called something) The Optic Cloak. (If it has a local nickname, I am unaware of it.) Because it’s a Big Thing vaguely shaped like a domino, and because it takes itself very seriously and because it’s not for people to live it, it reminds me of the Big Thing at the beginning of 2001 A Space Odyssey, despite its ziggy zaggy surface.

And very quickly, after hardly any walking south at all, I got my first sightings of the OC.

Here are nine of the first lot of photos I took of the OC:

All of these photos have something else in them besides the Optic Cloak itself, and this is deliberate.

Real Photographers are very clever at screening out all irrelevancies, when they photo a Thing like this. They go for the special effects that the Thing itself contrives, with no lampposts or surveillance cameras or cars or general crap inserting themselves into the final photo. The results often (a) are very beautiful (provided the Thing itself has something beautiful going for it), but (b) in no way prepare you for how the Thing actually looks, in its actual setting, when you actually get there. Real Photographers, to generalise, are better at lying with their cameras than snappers like me are, which means that snapper-photos are often superior, as actual guides to what Things really look like.

I especially like the trees, through which Things may now, at this time of the year, be seen, unlike in the boring old summer.

And I especially like all that blue sky.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Quota sunset from 2015

I left it too late and I am now too tired to do anything here today, so here’s a random quota photo:

Taken in May 2015, from the South Bank, looking north across the River. I’m pretty sure that’s the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. But feel free to disagree.

I hope – although I promise nothing – to do better tomorrow.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog