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Remember Architecture?...by Simon Warde


In my last blog I made a quick reference to a final trip away with my girlfriend and wondered whether this would go ahead.


Fortunately it did and at the end of September we managed a quick night away. We actually found a ‘very’ good deal for a one night stay on a large yacht moored at the Royal Docks in London. This yacht has been converted into a rather lovely hotel and we were blessed with the last of the sunshine, so were able to spend time relaxing on the deck with a bottle of something cheeky.


I don’t venture into London that often, although when I do, I’m often reminded of the interesting and creative architecture it has to offer. In younger years architecture was rarely something that caught my eye, or something I had great interest in. In later years this has completely changed and my interest in building design and well planned landscaping grows year on year.


When referring to architecture, we often think of the old and disregard the new. Is this because we have a general sense the architecture of old was so much more interesting than the architecture of new? Personally I feel this partially true and as we see new housing estates grow from the land around us, some developers often seem to have a set template and they simply replicate it, wherever they leave a footprint. This can result in bland buildings and estates with very little contrast, charm, or provide anything that catches your attention.

Is this to say that all new building/architecture is lazy? I would say “certainly not”. It is London that often provides me with inspiration.


As my girlfriend and I got out of Canning Town tube station and started our work towards the Royal Docks. We were immediately confronted with a huge building site where approximately eight high rise buildings were under construction. These were all a recognisable shapes, being very tall and a prefect oblong.


Would I therefore class this architecture as simple or bland? The answer is “no”. Each high rise had its own identity, with different textures, different materials and something as simple as thoughtful brick work providing real character.


When later we took the cable car (next to the hotel) over the Thames and into North Greenwich, you are once again struck by these striking high rise buildings. These certainly did not follow your standard oblong shape, with sharp and almost angry edges. Viewing these buildings from such a height, you could see how clever external communal spaces have been designed in at different levels of the towers.


This is architecture that is not only there to provide homes for people. It’s there to make a statement, there to be admired and there to be either loved or hated. Either way, it is bold and there to be deliberately different.


As we well know providing someone sheltered is key, although we also know that the structures we build today, will outlive us all and be left to the generations that follow.

Is it therefore important to you that these homes we leave behind not only provide shelter, but also provide inspiration to others? Is it important to you that the empty land we build on is replaced with something striking and with real character?

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Very relevant given todays planning change proposals ... watch this space as the definition of what constitutes beauty will be extremely important.

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