Just down the road from me is the new Wirral Met College on Wirral Waters. It’s been there a year now and there’s a few things I really like. First up is the design. It reminds me of Icelandic architecture. I like the big windows so people can see in and out. Turns out there’s a reason for this. It’s so people passing can understand the use of the building and also invite people in. The idea is that you can see people learning a skill and maybe think you could try it too. Clever. On the flip side it the view inspires the students. They’ll see the area develop over time and how the skills they’re learning can be put to real world use. Again, clever.
As part of the Sensing Spaces exhibition at the Royal Academy in London the Chilean company Pezo von Ellrichshausen created a beautiful wooden installation that you could climb up to get closer to the wonderful ceiling. It was huge and really had presence in that room but when you were on top it’s all about enjoying the details in the room its taken over.
I found the architecture in Iceland quite interesting. Reykjavik had some taller modern buildings going up by the ports but the traditional style seemed to be corrugated boxes with pointy roofs. I really liked the look. The cathedral was of course stunning. Iceland has a very Nordic feel to it with all the churches on the hillsides.
When you got out of Reykjavik the smaller towns felt quite American / Alaskan. There was no McDonalds but they had a Taco Bell. It’s a European country but it really felt American at times, in the smaller towns anyway.
Amsterdam has an interesting range of architecture. The older traditional looks the way it does for a variety of reasons. Houses are thin and tall because of cost. If you had a wide house you were quite rich to afford the land. So most are thin and tall. The buildings lean over the street a little. That’s not a structural issue it’s a design choice. It helps with the cranes on the top of each building and lifting goods in. They have to do this because houses are thin and tall and the stair cases are useless for pivoting a couch around. Pivot! PIVOT!
I’ve been to the Barbican once or twice over the years. It’s a hugely fascinating place. It feels like you step out of London and into something else completely different. A brutalist self contained city. It’s a strangely beautiful arrangement of concrete, trees and random humans. I imagine you could spend days there taking photos.
“Digital has made architectural photography very slick – sometimes you don’t know if it’s a photo, or if it’s a rendering, and that I find very disturbing. …If you’ve spent five years to ten years making a building, you want to make sure that the photos are like a building and not like a rendering.” – Hélène Binet