• Places just to 'be'

    Writing today for the World Architecture Festival, Jonathan Meades (who, by the way, dissects the architecture of Franco’s Spain on BBC next Tuesday) rightly bemoans the mediocre buildings of today. Where, he asks, are those that are responsive to local topography, that “climb hills, turn corners, offer shade and rest and include within their fabric small shops, bars and cafés, plus useful services.” It can be done, of course, and was... in the permeable skyscraper lobbies of New York and Chicago, which offered a handy cut-through, shoe-shine or newspaper; in the nooks and crannies of Manchester’s post-war stars like Brett & Pollen’s luxuriously blue and bronze Pall Mall Court; and in each of several small-scale courtyard developments in St Albans, Hertfordshire, since 1945. Britain’s capital, it’s true, has missed out, perhaps from fear of damaging its richly historic fabric. And yet plans of that era had a lighter touch than commonly supposed, with respectiful infill and many little pausing places in the tight urban grain of the City of London envisaged by Holden and Holford and illustrated exquisitely by Gordon Cullen. So yes, let’s not ignore that need for built-in wellness and visual interest and embrace a bit of calm, friendly architecture.

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Chris Rogers writer on architecture and visual culture

Click blog images to expand; pre-Sept 2011 posts here

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Chris is one of more than a dozen specialists whose essays fill this fresh examination of the charms of Paris, which is edited by John Flower. Looking at the French capital's history, culture and districts, each item can be read in just half a minute and is beautifully illustrated with its own collage-style spread.

The Ivy Press, 2018

Hardback, 160 pages | ISBN 9781782405443

£14.99

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