All posts tagged: Architecture

Demolition: What lies behind the walls of the Brutalist landmark estate

For some, it is an iconic example of 1970s Brutalist architecture; for others, a big, ugly eyesore. “Whatever they think, there’s a huge sense of community here,” says photographer Kois Miah of Robin Hood Gardens, a housing estate comprised of two blocks containing 213 flats, soon to be demolished and replaced by a new build. In light of this, and because of the sheer volume of tenants that will have to be relocated – some against their will from the only home they have every known – local Miah and his friend and partner Nick Thoburn, together with the support of the campaign group SPLASH (South Poplar & Limehouse Action for Secure Housing) visited the affected families, and immortalised some of their last moments in the apartments in intimate portraits. “There has been a lot of talk about the Brutalist architecture, but I thought it might be quite interesting to get the residents’ perspective on living on that estate,” says Miah. “The thing about this project is that it’s really intimate – people invite you into their …

2016-09-21T12:03:48+00:00

The radical architects who designed the discos of post-war Italy

As Italy emerged from World War II in the 1960s and 70s, the country found itself in need of reinvention. With the shadow of Mussolini and fascism looming large, the country set out to rebuild itself economically, culturally and socially. Out of this period of great transformation and uncertainty came the avant-garde designs by architects from the Radical design movement.  These architects, constrained by what they saw as the limits of post-war modern design, wanted to redefine the role of architecture in society. Inspired by the opportunity for experimentation, many viewed discotheques as an ideal vehicle for their creative drives. Innovative architects like Gruppo 9999, Superstudio and UFO designed a number of nightlife spaces that opened across the country. Radical Disco: Architecture and Nightlife in Italy, 1965 – 1975, is currently on show at the ICA until the 10th January and displays photographs from this fruitful, if brief period in Italian culture. As Sumitra Upham, co-curator alongside Catherine Rossi, tells BJP, the architects saw discos as an ideal avenue for the new ideas they wanted …

2016-01-06T17:02:13+00:00

How London’s new buildings show how the city is facing terminal decline

Cities are places of constant change. It’s the nature of them, and it’s what makes them attractive. But not all change is equal; change can be organic, but it can be pernicious and abnormal. London has always been a city in flux. But, for anyone living in London, the transformations of the past few years are impossible to ignore. Huge swathes of the city have been redeveloped, remarkable buildings demolished, long-standing communities displaced. This current period of activity is unique, for it is is undoing many of the things that make the city unique. As social housing becomes luxury flats, as their inhabitants are forced out to the suburbs, the inner zones of the city become ever more homogenous, expensive and dull. This issue is what underlies Metropole, a project that aims to visualise the changing skyline of London, to imagine how the city will come to look in the future and, most importantly, seeks to recreate the sensation of feeling lost in a city that was once familiar. It’s a project partly inspired by the city symphony movies of the 1920s, films …

2016-02-12T11:21:43+00:00

The custodians watching over Oxford’s hallowed institutions

Writing about Oxford, the travel writer Jan Morris observed, “it forms a national paradigm — in whose structure sometimes shadowy, sometimes splendidly sunlit, we may explore the history, the character and the condition of the English”. When Joanna Vestey moved to the city, she was intrigued by the way its inhabitants interact with its history, and she’s explored this nexus in her upcoming book Custodians. Lush, wide-angle shots frame the interior of locations such as The Radcliffe Observatory, The Codrington Library and the Trinity College Dining Hall, inhabited by a solitary figure somehow connected to the building. Vestey was interested in “how institutions shape us, and we them”, she writes in the afterword. She explains to me that she “wanted to find a middle ground that preferenced the space and the individual equally and leant towards something more painterly than photographic”. Russell Roberts describes Custodians as “a journey through the tourist imagination of Englishness” in his essay for the book, but Vestey says that she doesn’t intend this to be deferential. “[Roberts] also includes [an excerpt] by Allan Bennett …

2015-08-20T16:24:20+00:00

Great Heights

Are these photographs for real? Yes, they certainly are – Korean photographer Ahn Jun may sometimes use a harness if she’s leaning over the side of a building to photograph her feet, but she really is leaning over the side of a building, or leaping up onto its edge. Her project is titled Self-Portrait and, she says, it’s a kind of performance without an audience. “There was a day when I recalled my adolescent years,” she explains. “I was sitting on the edge of my apartment in New York and looking over the cityscape. I had a thought that suddenly my youth was coming to an end and I could not figure out the future. I sat on the edge and looked down. Then I saw the empty space, the void, and there was a sudden change in my perspective on life and death, present and future. The vision of the cityscape I was witnessing was not real for that moment – I felt the illusion of beautiful buildings was just like the future, or …

2014-10-01T18:31:04+00:00

Building Sight

One of the first subjects photographers turned to when photography was invented was architecture. Given the limitations of early cameras, it was crucial that buildings, unlike people, did not move. Or talk back, for that matter. And, importantly, if you argue that a primary mission of early photographers was to symbolise the imperialist enterprise by making an inventory of the material things of the world – which the colonialist powers largely owned – then architecture was one of the camera’s most vital subjects. For example, PH Delamotte’s 1855 album about the removal of the Crystal Palace to its final site in Sydenham is not only one of the great examples of early architectural photography, it is first and foremost a company report. It provides the first example of the qualities the writer David Campany invests in the photography of architecture – that it is document, publicity and commentary. Actually, Campany also adds art, but we’ll come to that later. His thoughts on photography and architecture appear in the catalogue Constructing Worlds: Photography and Architecture in …

2014-09-24T16:08:47+00:00

Frédéric Chaubin provides the cover image for our special issue on architecture and the built environment

BJP #7828: Constructing Worlds

“One of the first subjects to which photographers turned with relief when photography was invented was architecture,” writes Gerry Badger in September’s issue of BJP, which went on sale on 03 September. “Of course it was. Given the limitations of early cameras, it was crucial that buildings, unlike people, did not move. Or talk back, for that matter…. Ever since the 19th century, photographers and architects have had a symbiotic relationship. A surprising number of people in photography, myself included, studied architecture, or even practised it. Many leading photographers of the built environment have taught on architectural courses, such as Lewis Baltz and Guido Guidi at the celebrated architecture school in Venice. And architecture was the primary subject for both the greatest photographer, and the most important photographer of the 20th century, Eugène Atget and Walker Evans respectively.” Much of issue #7828 is devoted to the creative interplay between the two disciplines; a celebration of photography and the built environment in response to two major new surveys coming this autumn – Constructing Worlds: Photography and Architecture in …

2015-04-23T18:25:29+00:00

Building Sights

BJP

Gerry Badger writes in this month’s issue of BJP about photography and the built environment, responding to Barbican Art Centre’s upcoming exhibition, Constructing Worlds: Photography and Architecture in the Modern Age  (25 September—11 January), and Phaidon’s book covering similar territory, Shooting Space: Architecture in Contemporary Photography, published 29 September. Here follows an extract of his article: There is too much artsy fartsy in contemporary photography, and architectural photography seems particularly adept at bringing out the portentous and the pretentious. There is much contemporary pictorialism, flights from naturalism and the document into the realms of the abstract and constructed – partly because this is a tendency, and partly because it seems easier, and in some ways more fun, to mess about with Photoshop. Making meaningful straight photographs is extremely difficult. It is one of the great paradoxes of photography – the ‘art of the real’ – that so many seek refuge in pictorialism in the desperate desire to make photographic ‘art’ that is seen to be art. For example, are Hiroshi Sugimoto’s soft focus images of modernist buildings …

2014-09-22T13:19:03+00:00

Alban Lécuyer’s Here Soon

Here Soon, Alban Lécuyer’s latest series, originated from his previous work, in which he set up images of listed buildings being demolished among a conventional urban environment. “When I was working on that project, I came across many computer-generated images produced by architectural firms to promote the buildings that would replace the older ones,” he says. Lécuyer collected a lot of these images to unravel the basic principles used by architectural firms to promote and sell their creations. “The light is always excellent, the sun is always shining, there are blue skies, the colours are saturated, and all the trees and the people added are often transparent so as to not obscure the building,” he explains. “But the most important principle, at least for me, was the choice of characters added to these images. There’s a very conscious and commercial choice for presenting only young and attractive people, with a real emphasis on women – because the sight of a woman is reassuring. You won’t find young guys wearing baseball caps in these pictures, or …

2013-12-11T11:09:12+00:00

BJP Staff