Shakin’ windows?: Bexhill on sea, England. An epic centre of contemporary art.

Street art

Street art.? Photo Christopher C. Hill

Visiting Bexhill, a sleepy town on the south coast of England this weekend gone, I began to think the town might be dead. After wandering around for a couple of hours, desperation had set in when I came across a jam biscuit installation pressed on to the glass of a bus stop.

In Shoreditch, a fashionable and arty quarter of London where I work, such an installation would be buzzing with photographers the second it appeared, and there would be a good chance that it would be reported on the national news that evening as the work of an important street artist. Naturally, my chest swelled with pride that I might be able to bring it to the attention of the readers of this blog before anybody else.

I pondered the biscuit installation for sometime wondering who the artist might be, but I could not recognize a discernible style. Read more

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Smoke and mirrors: Alchemist, Miami, USA by Rene Gonzalez Architect.

view from car park

Photos: Rene Gonzalez Architect.

The carpark is fantastic, but that was designed by Herzog & de Meuron. On this occasion it is the glass boutique designed by Rene Gonzalez that has been inserted into the filth floor of the carpark that is of particular interest. One reason to linger on this project is because it suggests a far longer term perspective for the design of buildings. At some point thousands of carparks that have headrooms of less than 2m will have to be demolished if, and lets be optimistic, the current love affair with cars sours as a result of their environmental impact. Designing carparks that can be adapted to different uses and will therefore have an afterlife, is not just sensible, but an altogether positive thing.

This design however does not rely on common sense but rather exuberant design that made it the winner of the 2011 National AIA Institute Honor Award, and a 2012 AZ award winner.

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Bus terminal Baden-Rütihof, Switzerland by Knapkiewicz & Fickert.

Bus station at night

Photos: Knapkiewicz & Fickert.

The subject of both of today’s posts is the bus terminal. I have selected two buildings that I think architecturally illustrate a change in the public perception about bus travel over say the last 40 years. The featured buildings are the bus terminal at Baden-Rütihof, a small Swiss town, and the mighty concrete structure that is Preston bus station.

The Baden-Rütihof terminal was designed by Knapkiewicz & Fickert around 2003 and completed in 2005. Although the banality of the programme suggests the simplest possible building, the architects make a conscious effort to enliven the architecture with the addition of the coloured panels and the decorative motif to the soffit.

In a peculiar way the decorative motives appear to be a sexing-up of what is widely seen as an inexpensive, convenient but essentially dull mode of transport. Read more

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Preston bus station, by BDP.

Detail of balustrading

Photo: Longwayround.

Preston bus station, in the north of England, is thought to be the second largest in Europe. It was designed in the late 1960 by Building Design Partnership in heroic Brutalist style. In recent years, the authorities in Preston have proposed to demolish the building to make way for a new development. A public campaign to save the building was launched and a number of attempts to have the building heritage listed have failed. Campaigners claim the building is Preston’s most loved, whilst the council argues both the bus facilities and the the carpark are under used and have poor pedestrian links to the main shopping district of the town. The building remains at risk of demolition. Read more

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Rimrock ranch house by Lloyd Russell

Night shot

Photos: David Harrison

I am not sure Europeans really understand the desert or its architecture, and I am less certain that we understand American desert architecture. My assumptions, whether correct or not, suggest a good reason to take a closer look at the Rimrock ranch house designed by Lloyd Russell.

A steel portal frame, typical of an industrial shed, is clad on its roof, but not its sides, with profiled metal sheet. The construction creates what farmers in the UK call a Dutch Barn. A massive concrete up-stand- base on which the portal frame stands, suggests a cannibalised industrial shed. In this architectural scenario, we might refer to the canopy that is created as a climate break. Read more

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