Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Belcher & Joass at their most intolerable

If you spend too much time reading The Buildings of England it begins to warp your brain. You start to see everything through the eyes of Nikolaus Pevsner, and write in your head in a clipped, Germanic English. The 188 bus to a design by Stagecoach, showing usual Souter uninspired chuffing. Flyover at Elephant & Castle by GLC 1969, unlovely composition with mannerist concrete aggregate. Board school opposite, Grabber & Grabber, 1879 - wrong are the Gothic details, wrong are the huge gaping windows, wrong also are the lurid yellow bricks. Stafford Cripps Estate by LCC, 1958 - a fine, humanitarian work before the wilful ugliness of Brutalism set in.

That's until you reach some brightly coloured, ostentatiously irregular luxury development from the past 25 years, and become incapable of even imagining the precise terms of curt Teutonic vituperation he would have used...


Anonymous Lang Rabbie said...

At first I thought the headline had to be a truly inspired pastiche on your part.

But then I worked my way around my mental map of the most pompous Edwardian Wrennaissance buildings in the capital and alighted upon what is now London Metropolitan University's HQ.

And lo and behold, there it is on
page 270 of my "London 1" - Electra House (No 84 Moorgate) - built as the former headquarters of Cable & Wireless.


Some good allegorical sculpture, but the architecture is deathly.

11:09 pm  
Blogger owen hatherley said...

Consider me impressed. The fact that someone would actually look that up suddenly makes this whole blogging farrago seem worthwhile after all...

1:32 am  
Anonymous Lang Rabbie said...

It would have been a darn sight easier to have gone straight to the row of Pevsners on my bookshelves rather than relying on the quirks of the architectural gazeteer that remains in my head after a quarter century of alocoholic attrition. It is the first Belcher & Joass in the index to London 1!

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11:31 pm  

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