The Glass Tube As Architecture

Here’s one from London that gets me chuckling:

Mansour Namaki wants to link his Grade I-listed Regency villa – which was designed by James Burton in 1828 – to the mews house that also sits on the land.

Fair enough.  He owns both properties and the land between them, and it makes good sense to link them rather than have to walk through the garden (in British Weather) just to get from one to the other.  But then it all went pear-shaped:

He has hired Gherkin tower designer Ken Shuttleworth to design a ‘striking’ glass walkway that will join the two properties in the Regent’s Park Conservation Area.

Ah yes… the Gherkin:

…a.k.a. the Glass Suppository, which all by itself made London look… uglier.

What did he expect would happen?

Well, this is what would happen:

…so needless to say, the Usual Suspects and Busybodies got involved:

According to the council, the walkway’s ‘sculptural form would be a deliberately striking intervention which would over-compete with the architectural forms of the historic building and would demand attention.’

Richard Simpson, chair of Regent’s Park Conservation Area Advisory Committee said: ‘We asked the council to reject it and they did. Now we are waiting for the appeal decision.

‘It’s a very interesting house historically. 

‘This walkway would be a completely inappropriate addition both in terms of its scale, as it is two storeys, and its design. Its exotic curvy glazing which is really quite inappropriate.

‘It’s possible that an application for a walkway could be accepted. We are not saying he can’t as several others have but they should be much more modest. The buildings need to be respected.’

And another:

‘The rules are there for a reason. These houses are Listed and the rest of us have to abide by the restrictions. If Historic England has refused to approve it then they will have valid reasons for doing so.

‘The plans aren’t in keeping with the architecture. If he wants to build something modern he shouldn’t have bought a Listed home – they are very strict in the conservation area about what can and can’t be changed.’

And I agree. This bullshit is all about “Well I bought something so I can do anything I want with it” is typical rich-man’s solipsim and arrogance.

Anyway, that glass tunnel looks like something a pervert would use to insert a rat up someone’s anus.

The only good thing I can say about this silly man is that his wife would look really good in a Regency-era ballgown.

No permit needed for those.

Top Nine

Here’s an interesting thought:

Nine UK targets Vladimir Putin would bomb first as hit list is discovered by spies

Far be it for me to offer this dwarf Russian asshole any support whatsoever, but I could be persuaded to do so if his top 9 included the following (in no specific order, and by their nicknames mostly):

1. The Cheesegrater

2. The Walkie Talkie

3. Tower 42

4. The Shard

5. The Razor

6. The Gherkin

7. Lloyds Tower

Not all are tall skyscrapers…

8. The National Theatre

9. London City Hall

Or, if Vlad has such a thing as a Russian version of a MOAB, he could go for the grand salami:

Words cannot express the horror I feel at how London has allowed itself to become Dubai-On-Thames, ruining the wonderful classical architecture which made it unique among the world’s great cities.

No Need For Revisitation

Here’s a piece at Modern Thinker  which revisits Modernism:

The forerunners of modernism were a mixture of eccentrics and revolutionaries. They agreed on the break with tradition — and the abominated institutions of the bourgeoisie, including classical architecture. Regrettably, several of the rebellious architects were also willing to renounce their integrity and enter the service of the totalitarians.

Several?  Try “almost all” and you’ll be closer to the truth.

Longtime — and maybe even Recent — Readers will know all about my opinion of Modernist architecture (just follow this link if memories need refreshing).

So while the above article is an interesting read, the executive summary is that modernism sucks, sucks green donkey dicks in fact, and is a blight on the landscape everywhere it is perpetrated.

As the title of this post suggests, there is no need to “revisit” modernism, unless it is to be used as a guideline which says, “Not that.  Anything but that.”

Fugly Houses

I am often amused by the excitement (mostly negative) that arises over in Britishland when there’s any talk of housing development — i.e. building new houses where hitherto there have been none.  Mostly, of course, the fury arises from among the NIMBYs who, having purchased their houses in or near village A, don’t want anyone else to live nearby because of “character” and the loss thereof.

It makes no sense because there’s a distinct lack of affordable housing Over There, not the least because very little new housing gets built — and when it does, it is of surpassing ugliness.  Here’s an example of one such development recently built near Cambridge:

Yes, dear Readers, those are single-family homes, built according to the principles of Gropius and Le Corbusier, only with slanted roofs.  Anywhere else, they’d be called “apartments” because that’s what they resemble, and I leave it to your imagination to decide how people would feel about living in such surroundings.  Small wonder the existing population gets upset, if what’s coming looks like that.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be like that.  As our family often says, “architecture doesn’t have to suck”, and here’s an example of same, in Doc Russia’s neighborhood a couple of towns over from Plano.

I should point out that the interiors of the above houses are almost identical:  the floorplans and footprints are as close to uniform as can be imagined, and the square footage thereof likewise.  (It may not look that way, but that’s the genius of the developer’s architect.)

Basically, the developer said to the initial homeowners:  “We have about a dozen different looks for the houses here.  Pick one, but just note that no identical outside designs can be next door to or across the road from each other, and in fact we intend to keep the designs separate as much as possible so that the development looks like a group of custom homes, even if they aren’t.  Oh, and they’re all going to cost about the same, within a couple-five thousand dollars of each other depending on what cladding you choose for the front of the house.”  It is a remarkably attractive development, and the prices have increased massively over time precisely because people don’t want to live in a suburb looking like that Cambridge cell-block.

And I should point out that those Brit houses and the American ones are very close in price, even allowing for the currency difference.

So the Brits could have built something according to the same ethos, but they didn’t because… well, they didn’t care, they had no imagination,there were cost savings, they figured that the buyers would just want to get whatever they could regardless of appearance, I dunno.

Anyway, the good news is that after the Cambridge development was completed, the council housing inspectors found that the entire suburb had a systemic flaw in the foundation design, with this happy result a few months later:

…and yes, I laughed and laughed and laughed myself sick.  However, I will not offer odds that the rebuilt houses will look any different from their predecessors.

By the way, I have to point out in all fairness that we in Murka have similar problems;  Doc Russia’s little enclave notwithstanding, I saw on my way home from the drugstore this horrible fucking  thing that sprang up in Plano over a period of a couple months:

Those architectural pustules are townhouses, and in the normal course of events they’d lie empty for decades;  but sadly, there is such great demand for new housing hereabouts (Californians, uh-huh, uh-huh) that I think the houses were almost all sold before completion.  Yes, they look like nothing more than white-painted Monopoly houses all crammed together, and to say that they look nothing like any other townhouse development in Plano is an understatement.  These are a block or two away from my place:

I think I’ll drop an anonymous note to our housing inspectors, saying that those white blocky things may be too dangerous for habitation because of foundation problems;  but sadly, our inspection process here must be different from Over There because the foundations are inspected before any walls can be built on them.

Pity, that.

Losing Character

I’ve ranted so often about shitty architecture on these pages that one might be forgiven for thinking that I’d be sick of it by now.

Silly rabbit.

Here’s the latest example of foulness:

Residents living next to one of the most expensive houses in Britain have blasted the home as a ‘monstrosity’.
The newbuild, in the exclusive London suburb of Chelsea, has been nicknamed ‘Gucci House’ by appalled neighbours because of its ‘gaudy’ appearance.
The ‘ugly’ mansion occupies land that was formerly a school playground and has a dark grey exterior and imposing metal gates outside.

The exclusive street is the oldest in Chelsea, dating back to at least 1566.

I know, it looks like a wart on a pretty girl’s face — not, mind you, that London residential architecture is anything like a pretty girl’s face:  it’s dated, and occasionally quite horrible — but whatever, it’s what gives London its character.

As to why some rich fuck and his equally-fucky architect would want to lessen or destroy that character, I leave it to you to decide.  But speaking of that architect, here’s a quote which describes the process perfectly:

Original architects, Gumuchdjian, describe the property as surrounding a garden courtyard with an entrance that echoes the Parisian Hotel Particular.

Okay, let’s just nip this little turd-piece in the bud.

There’s no such thing as the Parisian Hotel Particular — it’s not a specific building, so it shouldn’t be capitalized.  The hotel particulier  is a style of building, and denotes a grand townhouse.  Here’s a typical example of said style, in Paris:

To even suggest that this London carbuncle resembles the above is mendacity in the Clinton Class.

And here’s the final word on this catastrophe, from a neighbor:

‘My house has survived The Blitz, it was built in the 1780s, they’re not building to match the heritage of the area. It’s like vandalism. How can the council approve this when it doesn’t match the other ones?’

Here’s a clue:

The house changed hands just last year and according to data from the Land Registry, the price tag of £73.2million was 209 times the average house price last year which was £350,396.

When a house costs about $100 million, a hundred thou or so to the right councilor or planning authority is small change.

Just sayin’.

No Solo Effort

Here’s one which set my teeth on edge:

MSNBC host Joy Reid lamented that black Americans have not received sufficient reparations for “literally, physically” building this country.

Ignoring for the moment all the Chinese workers who built the railroads and the (largely) White guys who built the skyscrapers… wait, skyscrapers?

You see, without the eeevil Whitey and his supremacist designs and engineering and stuff, we’d have ended up with, shall we say more modest structures:

Oh, I know:  this silly woman was talking about political “reparations” (I just couldn’t resist the opportunity for a cheap shot, shoot me).  Here’s the full excerpt, then:

MSNBC host Joy Reid lamented that black Americans have not received sufficient reparations for “literally, physically” building this country, believing that former President Barack Obama’s eight-year tenure is the best they will get.

Yeah I know, the jokes write themselves.  “Eight?  You mean twelve  and “If Obama was the best deal Blacks could get for themselves, y’all are in deep shit”, etc.

I would never have believed it, but I’m getting sicker of the race bullshit in the U.S. than I was of the race bullshit back in the old Racist Republic.

See, what people like Joy Reid need to do is to go and live in somewhere like South Africa forever for a couple of years, just to see how that “political reparations” thing is likely to work out.

Stupid bitch.