It’s been a while on this blog, but time for some more ecclesiastical modernism, this time in the form of Sir Basil Spence’s (yep, THAT Basil Spence) 1959 design in New Parks. Continue reading
My last post explained how I occasionally get to know cities by finding murals and streetart. On my trip to Poland last month I visited Warsaw again and so a couple of days before I went, spent a bit of time researching and adding pins to a Google map. I found plenty of information to help – murals really are big (in more ways than one) in Poland with cities giving approval for some of the work.
The magnificent Markham Moor filling station on the A1. Designed in 1960-61 by Sam Scorer and a German refugee engineer, Dr. Haynal-Kónyi, the hyperbolic paraboloid roof was originally a cover for the petrol pumps of the Lincolnshire Motor Co. Later, a Little Chef ‘restaurant’ was built under the roof.
The building has stood empty for many years before being recently refurbished and made available to let. Apparently, it is one of only two listed filling stations in the UK.
I’d live in it if I could. Better still, I’d live opposite so I could look at it for longer.
Sorry to post these pictures again, but you seem like a friendly bunch…
You might remember my Good News, Bad News post from earlier in the week, when I mistakenly ended up getting a roll of Fuji Velvia (E-6 slide film) cross-processed in C41 chemicals. Well, today the negatives arrived back from the lab (I used the scans they’d emailed previously) and so I thought I’d have a go at scanning them myself and making some correction to get rid of the worst of the cross-processing effects, as I’m not a big fan.
I read somewhere that if you tell the (Epson) scanning software that a film is black and white negative, but set the output to 24-bit colour, it would help – I have no idea why. Anyway, I did this with the first two shots on the roll, taken into a setting sun on Newcastle’s Swing Bridge and it worked. The colours were much more accurate, with none of the previous excesses:
Compare these to the previous, lab-scanned versions:
The colours are still a little wonky, but I prefer them…
My 52 rolls so far:
It’s only recently that I’ve begun to pay attention to architecture and the built environment around us, but the more one reads on the subject, the more often certain buildings and their architects are mentioned. Despite there being few James Stirling buildings around, they seem to cause great debate and division. They are hugely important in the development of modern architecture and the re-development of the UK after the war.
He created a trio of university buildings during the late 50s and 1960s that were radical, futuristic and controversial. He designed them at the limits of material technology – for example, all three use huge expanses of glass, but when they were built, the glass and it’s supporting aluminium frames tended to leak and suffered poor thermal performance. It seems that as well as this experimentalism, they suffered from budget constraints and an over-optimism about the rate that they could be built, meaning that they were always going to be up against it.
But despite this, they all still stand, and importantly, still perform the function that they were designed to do.
The first of the three to be built is the nearest to home – the Engineering Building at Leicester University, designed by Stirling and James Gowan and completed in 1959. It’s made up of a large workshop building, along with towers containing lecture theatres, laboratories and offices and was squeezed into the corner of the university plot.
This is the rear entrance between the workshops on the left and the towers. Both towers have a lecture theatre above the podium, and the other accommodation stacked above. In this, the lower tower, are four floors of research laboratories and as with the workshops, the overhang allows equipment to be hoisted directly in through removable floor panels.
Like the other buildings in the trilogy, this building features red faced walkways and handrails. In Cambridge they’re white and very obvious. Here, they’ve been painted red to match the brick. The podium is windowless, monolithic concrete, clad in tiles and brick.
The second of the three is the Faculty of History Library, Cambridge of 1968. Here, many of the themes and finishes used in Leicester are applied to a very different brief. This building was to be a showpiece development while also being practically useful. The resulting glass pyramid provides exceptional natural light to the reading rooms and offices, but again, cost cutting during construction led to cheap materials and processes being used.
It remains visually stunning (although smaller than it looks) and like other Stirling buildings, is intuitive and ‘makes sense’ to someone visiting for the first time.
These are two magnificent structures, that get ever more interesting the more one explores (both the buildings and their history). I look forward to a return to Oxford to photograph the third, and possibly most maligned in the trilogy, The Florey Building.