Saturday, August 29, 2009


As preview for forthcoming obligatory blogger's holiday post, me on Front 242's 'Headhunter' and its magnificent video; plus go read the holiday posts at the FJ, on English marine architecture and its strange permutations.

I recently had the honour of being a judge for this year's Carbuncle Cup, the annual award for worst piece of Bad British Architecture. There is a full report on the proceedings here, but it is notable that two of the three winners were educational buildings, and at the two poles of this field - one, the achingly drab PFI modernism of the Queen Margaret University Campus, for its generic Blairite blandness; and the exciting signature architecture of MAKE's Jubilee Campus, with its ten opposing ideas expressed in its three buildings (and appalling sculpture), all of them equally shit. I'd like to apologise to Nottingham for this not winning the top prize - I tried.


Blogger bat020 said...

interestingly enough "front242" is one of the most commonly used passwords

4:01 pm  
Blogger Chris Matthews said...

I can't imagine UoN commissioning the Hallward library today, which I hasten to add has very recently been ruined by some very poor interior designing.

How can this?

And a Starbucks!

Be put in this?

The interior is now completely at odds with its smart early 70s American modernism. And the carpet! Oh! So very awful. This was once described by Pevsner as 'studious calm induced by subdued lighting and uninterrupted spaces'. And now it's a frigging starbucks cafe. Here's the old exterior before (the yellow tinged photogaph doesn't do it justice, but you get the picture):

The chamfered corner windows are still there thank goodness, but generally speaking the interior is a now travesty. Perhaps BD have a trophy for ruining existing builds, which are already loved by many? Oh look - there is even a facebook group.

Aside from the criticism of the architects, what about the patrons? Do you think the UoN new build (and Hallward library balls up) is part of the current tension between university academia and management? As I understand, universities are under increasing pressure from government and funding sources to make departments more commercial.

So does this is someway explain a flashy marketing exterior at odds with itself and masking a disgruntled internal structure?

Or even a bold 70s modernist building gutted by a starbucks cafe?

5:28 pm  
Blogger Charles Holland said...

That Front 242 video is fantastic, a late '80's Story of the Eye.

7:40 pm  
Blogger Lang Rabbie said...

The video adds up to a peculiar psychoanalysis of the bureaucrat, with this emblem of fertility carried through their scrupulously sterile city, the base and carnal desires sublimated into business warfare.

Oh for goodness sake, Owen! Did you really type that with a straight face, or are you hoping that inclusion in Pseuds' Corner will increase sales of the book.

[I don't think Corbijn's ever managed a Freudian analysis of anything - he just makes lovely striking images. I had an enjoyable morning only a few weeks ago nursing a hangover and watching Corbijn music videos I hadn't seen for twenty years on YouTube with no need to engage my brain.]

10:03 pm  
Blogger owen hatherley said...

Did you really type that with a straight face

You should imagine me with a permanently straight face, Mr Rabbie.

11:24 pm  
Blogger eamonn said...

that eggs thing. Is it in Weekend by Godard? Something similar. Sounds awfully familiar

1:31 pm  
Anonymous Lara said...

The 242 is also the worst bus route in London but one I shall nevertheless miss when I leave Hackney because it goes past my top-floor flat each day and many travellers have seen me in various states of undress.

Sorry to lower the tone in such a serious blog, but I just had to tell you about that bus.

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