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 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.

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.)

Julius Caesar in London

First up, the Julius Caesar statue outside Tower Hill tube station, with a couple having some photo-fun with him:

Second, some photo-evidence I acquired, when Darren and I recently visited the Oval, of the time when Julius Caesar played cricket for Surrey:

I reckon they cheated. It should read: “J Caesar Esq”.

He was born and brought up in Godalming.

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.

Continuous Particulate Monitor

I love the internet.

I was in Oxford Street the other day, and photoed this gizmo, once the whole thing, and then a photo of the letters and numbers on the gizmo:

I love the internet because I could type those letters and numbers into it, and immediately learn that this is a pollution measuring device. To be more exact, this is a (see above) Continuous Particulate Monitor.

I tried reading this, but was unable to discern from it whether this process is applied to the emissions of a particular vehicle, or just to the air generally, in the general vicinity of the Continuous Particulate Monitor.

But the funny thing is, when I googled “bx 802”, I didn’t get any mention of any BX-802s, but lots of mentions of the BX-1020. Which I assume must be the more recent version of the BX-802.

Mind you, the internet did also suggest that BX 802 could be a chair.

Low level roof clutter on the House of Fraser

Presumably, many readers of this blog regard my fascination with roof clutter as a mere eccentricity, perhaps a consequence of me getting old. But, I believe that there is more to it than that. I mean, for starters, there is just, in a place like London, so much of it.

One matter illuminated by observing roof clutter is that one is thereby observing which parts of a city are, so to speak, part of the public performance, of the stage scenery as seen by the audience; and which parts are the mere behind-the-scenes clutter by means of which the appropriate public appearances are created, and by means of which the merely mechanical purposes of the buildings are kept going. And one of the things about this division is that it keeps needing to be changed, to incorporate the new ways people look at their city. They start looking down on it, from tall new buildings, for instance. Which causes all sorts of aesthetic oddities to be experienced. Like observing a vast see of roof clutter of a kind never originally intended to be observed at all.

This roof clutter photo strikes me as especially striking:

Yesterday I attempted to visit the roof garden of John Lewis, as resolved during the previous posting. But it turned out this roof garden is shut for the next three weeks. I only got as far as the floor beneath the roof garden. And it is amazing what a difference that small difference in height makes to what you can see. It’s the difference between dreariness and all manner of distantly visible excitements. Also, when I got to this not-quite-top, the weather was pretty dreary, so I didn’t stay long. But I did photo the photo above.

How come this particular stretch of roof clutter is so near to the ground? Why has’t it been tidied up. Why hasn’t it been arranged, prettified? Why hasn’t it been “designed”?

The reason is that in the normal course of things, nobody would ever look down on it.

This is because department stores are typically not places where you are supposed to be looking outwards, through the windows of the store. You are there to look inwards, at the produce on display, and to buy some of it.

Look at the department store windows in the above photo, the ones above the roof clutter. They aren’t real windows! They may have glass and everything, but they aren’t there to be looked out through. They are there to disguise the brute fact that a department store is a big box, with walls you aren’t supposed to be looking through instead of spending money.

And that part of Oxford Street is all department stores. So, when it comes to the roof clutter in the photo, nobody’s looking. This stuff is invisible. The only people looking at the facade of the House of Fraser are at ground level, and even they aren’t really looking. For them, a pavement is mostly a machine for walking along and a department store is a mostly machine for shopping in. What mostly matters to them about the House of Fraser is all the signs saying “House of Fraser” because that tells them what sort of stuff is inside.

There is also, of course, a decidedly backstage atmosphere to this entire little street.

Here’s what happens to a roof which, for some of the time at least, is often looked down upon, out of office windows for instance. Offices have real windows (and it occurs to me that one reason for the fake windows in the wall of the House of Fraser might be if they want to turn a bit of the store into an office, or maybe even convert the entire thing into an office (but I digress)):

I was only able to photo these photos because of the rather recent (?) habit of turning the tops of department stores, and office blocks for that matter, into observation decks, where food and drink can be sold and where the city, publicly impressive or merely cluttered, can be observed from above.

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.