Tuesday, 19 May 2015

A Year in Pictures – 15 to 18 May 2015 – More Façadism, A Tall Pointy Tower, A Lofty Leafy Thing and The Bright Blazing Sun of Eventide

On Friday afternoon, 15 May, I was at the western end of Oxford Street, where an extreme example of façadism is on display. While the engineering involved is a thing to behold, why are two Victorian façades being preserved as a figleaf for the enormous residential development (at present a large hole in the ground) that is to be placed behind them? Such efforts suggest a lack of confidence in modern architecture coupled to a guilt about eradicating the past on this particular patch of London turf.

On Saturday 16 May, my wife and I went to Portsmouth to see my mother. It was good day and the sun blazed from a virtually cloudless sky, although the air was still quite chilly. Here is the Millennium Tower that dominates Gunwharf Quays and has become a major landmark on Portsea Island. At night it is illuminated in a variety of colours.

Sunday 17 May saw the second day of the "Marriott Sevens" at Twickenham Rugby Stadium. The town found itself turned over the weekend into a giant litter bin/urinal/vomitorium for the hordes of 18-25 year-olds drawn by the mindless and irresponsible advertising of the sponsors and the Rugby Football Union, who seem to think that a noisy hedonistic drinkfest is just what the increasingly hard-pressed residents need to wake them out of their cosy complacency. The litter and debris visible when we drove into our road at around 9:20 the previous evening was truly shocking. No efforts were being made to clear this ghastly mess, with the result that detritus would be blown into people's gardens, as well as local parks and streams. I did not witness the scenes in the middle of the town, but they were by all accounts not pretty.

There was mercifully no evidence of this in Richmond College's playing fields on Sunday as I made my way through them back to my house. All was peaceful there, although the fields are within sight of the RFU Stadium, where Sevens matches were still in progress. This was also a sunny day and I spent quite a while photographing an elm and an ash that stand next to each other by the path along the edge of the fields. The leaves are new and their colours fresh and vibrant. Here is one of the shots I took up through the dramatically zig-zagging branches of the ash towards the bright midday sky beyond. 

If you have read some previous posts, you will know that I am no fan of 20 Fenchurch Street, aka "The Walkie-Talkie". It punishes those who walk by it with fierce winds that I know are of concern to the City of London's planning department (who rejected the development, but were ultimately overruled by the then Secretary of State, whose name I neither know nor can be bothered to find out). There are nevertheless things I like about the building, not least the layout of the pavement at its feet, seen here.

At around 6:30pm on Monday, 18 May, we are looking east along Fenchurch Street to the junction with Gracechurch Street and on into Lombard Street, at whose end lies the great commuter magnet that is Bank Station. Not the greatest of shots, but it was taken on my phone and then put through various software hoops to try and tone down the dazzling setting sun. I hope it captures something of the drama of that early evening sun at this time of year.

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