Category Archives: architecture

Accrington, Lancashire

Sunday 26th May 2019, 3.15pm (day 2,831)

Accrington houses, 26/5/19

Getting the train from Hebden Bridge to points further north-west involves passing through — or rather (on a viaduct), over — the town of Accrington. I once got involved in a conversation on social media as to which was England’s most ‘Northern’ town, meaning, not geographically, but culturally, stereotypically. This place won, and each time I cross the viaduct and see its seemingly endless ranks of terraced, back-to-back housing, I remember why. This is just a small part of the whole. LS Lowry could paint Accrington as it looks today, and few would doubt the authenticity.

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The Arndale Centre

Tuesday 21st May 2019, 9.00am (day 2,826)

Arndale centre, 21/5/19

The Arndale subsumes a huge chunk of Manchester under its architectural footprint. The third-biggest city centre shopping mall in Europe, or something like that. It’s safe to say that when it was built it wasn’t popular. My late Gran would not go in it; it was too large, too enclosed, too alien. These days it’s getting middle-aged, having been completed in 1979. But that still doesn’t make it as old as me.

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The Old Quadrangle

Tuesday 14th May 2019, 2.20pm (day 2,819)

Old Quadrangle, 14/5/14

Even Manchester’s crowded, fully urban campus can crank up the architecture quotient now and again, especially on a sunny May day. The Beyer Building and its cloak of ivy have featured before. My only day on campus this week, so I’m glad it was a pleasant one.

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The IG Farben Building

Friday 10th May 2019, 5.55pm (day 2,815)

IG Farben building, 10/5/19

At one point during the conference I was attending at the Goethe University in Frankfurt today, there were vague references to ‘our famous building’ that drifted through my Friday consciousness but didn’t take hold. Then, on my way back into the city centre afterwards, I saw the building.

The IG-Farbenhaus has had a chequered history to say the least. HQ to the eponymous company, when built in the 1920s it was the biggest office building in Europe and remained so for thirty years. IG Farben manufactured the world’s first antibiotic — and also the gas that was used in the Nazi concentration camps. After the war the USA used it as a military base — the ‘Pentagon of Europe’; following German reunification ownership passed to the state of Hesse who renovated it and then helped the Goethe-Institut build a new campus around it from 2001 onwards. And all set in parkland (kept free of development by the Americans for security reasons) right in the city centre.

I’m sure this photo doesn’t do the architecture full justice, but what the hell, the sun looks good too.

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Zagreb street

Wednesday 8th May 2019, 7.15pm (day 2,813)

Zagreb street, 8/5/19

When I was younger, propaganda convinced me that everywhere behind the old Iron Curtain was grey, drab and polluted. This is of course not the case, was never the case. Eastern European cities (see also Prague, Tallinn, more) seem to have this effortless sophistication, a handsome civility that should shame all who voted for the idiocy that is Brexit. Britons have much to learn from such places, the trouble is that 17 million of them said, we don’t want to. (The Croatians have also learned from us though — at least, they have acquired an understanding of ‘the pub’.)

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Arts West Building, University of Melbourne

Monday 8th April 2019, 11.20am (day 2,783)

Arts West building, 8/4/19

Another university campus makes it onto the blog. The week’s work that my colleague Lee and I have to do here is the reason I got the funding to come to Australia in the first place, so I’d better pay attention to my duties. It’s a pleasant — if somewhat cramped — campus; this is one of the newer buildings on it and is quite impressive inside and out. I was told that the shapes on the outer frame make patterns when seen on Google Maps but I’ve checked and nothing seems apparent to me: not as much as they remind me of the pattern on the cover of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures, anyway.

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Nanyang Technological University campus

Friday 29th March 2019, 2.45pm (day 2,773)

NTU, Singapore, 29/3/19

Last day in Singapore before I move on once more on this spring tour of Asia. Nanyang Technological University, or NTU, becomes the latest campus to feature on the blog. It’s a pleasant green space, though with that generic feel that many campuses — and, in the end, the whole world — is starting to have. This is one of those shots that would be nicer if it were truly symmetrical, but I guess that level of symmetry happens only rarely, so perhaps I should embrace the nearness of it, its imperfections in that respect.

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Walls and windows

Tuesday 5th March 2019, 4.10pm (day 2,749)

Hebden housing, 5/4/19

Excitement and/or variety are not really on the agenda this week, but so be it. I have a crappy cold, anyway. The distinctive topography of my home town is usually good for a picture of some kind, so saves the day here.

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Hemispheres

Tuesday 26th February 2019, 7.15am (day 2,742)

Hemispheres, 26/2/19

Two hemispheres… one of them real, atop the Corn Exchange in Manchester, one just apparent. But it balances nicely on the other. Would it be better if the spike pointed right to the terminator? Well, maybe, but then it wouldn’t balance, would it?

Two days in a row of photos at 7:nn am, as well: the last time that happened was May 2017. Must be the good weather making me keen. Or the realisation that I have six months left of my forties, which is true as of today.

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Platform 2, Preston station

Friday 22nd February 2019, 3.55pm (day 2,738)

Platform 2, Preston, 22/2/19

Beautifully — some might even say, ridiculously — warm day today for February, with temperatures up to 20ÂșC in Hebden Bridge. It’s the half-term holidays as well as the weekend and all this tempted people out, including me, as the afternoon saw a decamp up to the in-laws’ place in Morecambe. Preston station was busy and well-lit; on such days it’s hard not to admire the durability and aesthetic qualities of your basic Victorian station architecture — love those pillars.

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