Tag: modernist architecture

Barbican YMCA to close: a great building in a search of a purpose

Barbican YMCA will close in September. It is a great building with a superb central staircase. It has been neglected and is now in need of a sympathetic conversion to something useful.

Advertisements

Golden Lane Leisure Centre wraps come off a week before new book published on its architects

Just a week before English Heritage, RIBA and the Twentieth Century Society publish a new book by Elain Harwood on the architects of Golden Lane Estate, the scaffolding has been removed from the leisure centre at the heart of the estate. With another three months to go before the restoration is complete, the work to date has removed the frosted glass windows and clumsy flood lighting to create a clean, elegant facade. This is a great time to look at it. Chamberlin, Powell and Bon – Elain Harwood

20111109-075938.jpg

20111109-075956.jpg

20111109-080014.jpg

The best roof garden in the City of London. Why is it closed to everyone?

Great Arthur House, the centrepiece of Golden Lane Estate was not only London’s tallest residential tower when completed in the 1950s but it had and still has, a superb roof garden. These pictures give some indication of its size and attraction.  It provides superb views over the City, it has a beautifully-designed pagoda, roof for two trees, areas for sheltered seating and a small pond, fed by the huge curved roof that gives the building its personality.  And, it is closed to….everyone.  It has become slightly newsworthy locally over the past couple of weeks  because someone has managed to get up there and added a couple of graffiti tags.

Why is it closed? Allegedly because there were a number of suicides twenty years ago.

Roof gardens have become fashionable again.  The one on the recently-opened One New Change is pretty amazing and pretty corporate.   The roof garden on Great Arthur House is intimate, residential, almost cosy.  One of the residents who visited on a rare occasion when it was opened two years ago remembers deckchairs on a Sunday afternoon.  There is little public space in the City, Great Arthur House roof garden could be a special place for everyone who lives here. View a video of the roof garden.

Picture credits: Michael Bojkowski and Tim Crocker.

Trademark air vents in Wood Street

This building is really fun to look at.  There are trademark air vents (to be compared with the Pompidou Centre) together with a colour scheme matching the Lloyds Register building twenty minutes walk away.  It is worth looking up into the lift shafts at night. 

Lloyds Register

This is a view from underneath one of the external lifts in the Lloyds Register Building. Like the Lloyds Insurance Building, it shares an architect – Richard Rogers.

Unlike the Lloyds Building, this is very easy to view at a close distance. The lifts make a satisfyingly clunky noise as they move up and down and the whole scene is completely melodramatic.

Golden Lane waits for the builders

Here is a great view of Golden Lane Estate with the swimming pool at its centre.  Work is due to start any minute on restoration.  There is some nervousness about this.  The plans involve making some significant changes. At present it is easy to walk around the site at two levels.  The lower level space between the sports hall and the swimming pool is due to be blocked in with a dance studio.  The roof will also have photovoltaic panels and all of the windows will be replaced with double glazed versions.  It should be good but will the windows look right or will they be out of character?  Will the dance studio destroy the lightness and fluidity of the current arrangement?  Will the panels on the roof look ungainly and inappropriate and will they generate enough electricity to make their installation worth while.  The problem with much-loved places is that they lead to conservatism from those who want to preserve a quality which it is feared will be lost with the improvements.  Has the Festival Hall been ruined by its new stage and the removal of the acoustic canopy?  Is the Barbican worse off because of its orange paint work.  Golden Lane Leisure Centre will be a test case for matching elegant restoration with the joy of moving through water. (Picture: Tim Crocker).