BEAUTÉ BRUT: Preston Bus Station

Completed in 1969 by Keith Ingham and Charles Wilson, a pair of architects working for British firm Building Design Partnership (now known as BDP), the 170-metre-long structure became the largest bus station in Europe and a poster child for the Brutalist style.

The colossal scale of the structure – it boasts 40 gates for double-decker buses on both its east and west sides – is seen as both the building’s greatest feature and, by some, its failing. It faced demolition in 2013, following reports that a much-needed renovation could cost as much as £23 million due to the size of the project. But its popularity amongst both local residents and architects led to a heritage listing that blocked any future redevelopment of the site. (Dezeen)

Now, as its renovation is completed, it’s plain that the bus station deserves to stand alongside the other robust civic masonry that Preston, like many industrial cities, boasts: the neo-Greek Harris Museum and Art Gallery; the Edwardian baroque Sessions House. (Guardian)

Preston Bus Station by Building Design Partnership

Preston Bus Station by Building Design Partnership

Preston Bus Station

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Preston bus station © Alamy

 

 

Image Credits: Wikipedia, Lancashire Council, 20th Century Architecture, Dezeen, Tom Clarke, theplanner

BEAUTÉ BRUT: The Brunswick Centre, London

Brunswick Centre Bloomsbury

The Brunswick Centre – an early experiment in planned mixed-use development of housing with retail and commercial uses – occupies a city block between the Russell and Brunswick Square Gardens, with Coram’s Fields lying to the east. The centre is well served by the nearby Russell Square underground station. (academyofurbanism)

 

Brunswick Centre

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The site was originally occupied by Georgian townhouses on the estate of the Foundling Hospital. During the mid 1950s this was bought by a private developer whose plan from the outset was to clear the site to make way for two 25-storey tower blocks containing luxury flats and retail. These proposals were resisted by the borough of Camden and the developer was recommended to the consult the renowned post-war architect Leslie Martin. He championed low rise development and maintained that an equal density of development could be achieved on the site with two parallel blocks. At this stage he handed the project to Patrick Hodgkinson to take forward. (academyofurbanism)

Development commenced in 1967 and was finally completed in 1972. However, the original developer went bankrupt during construction and the project was sold to Sir Robert McAlpine construction. The housing element was bound into contractual obligations and completed as per the original design. After the 1964 general election, furnished tenants were given security of tenure, and Camden Council agreed to rehouse in social housing all existing tenants. (academyofurbanism)

 

Brunswick Centre

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The compound appeared in various popular media pieces such as in the movie The Passenger (1975) as Jack Nicholson visiting the centre and even the Finnish group Lodgers wrote a song for the Brunswick Centre. It has been more than a half of a century, it is still alive and kicking!

(Image Credits: e-architect, Guardian, londonist, academyofurbanism, timeoutlondon,

Measuring magic: It is all about love darling!

As folks of great Earth, Wind and Fire told us, it is All About Love, and Fred Kent from the Projects for Public Spaces cannot agree more!

Places exude a kind of magnetism, a draw that brings people closer together—lovers and strangers, alike. Whether sharing a kiss, or simply sharing a bench, there are endless examples of closeness and affection all brought about by great public spaces.

This affection isn’t just icing on the cake; it’s a basic human need. “It’s a big idea, affection,” observes PPS founder Fred Kent, “because it’s everywhere. Every community, every culture, every human being has a need for affection, for engaging with people, for connecting with people.” As our recent Healthy Places report reveals, social support and interaction provides important benefits to mental wellbeing and feelings of safety. Meanwhile, social isolation contributes to depression, stress, and can also undermine a community’s resilience in the face of disaster.

But affection relies on a deep sense of comfort. People must feel physically and mentally at ease before they open up to show signs of love and friendship. (Project of Public Space)

Check this great article on what makes public spaces places for people!

Or you can just listen to the folks below.

The trees and the birds
And if there ain’t no beauty
You gotta make some beauty
Have mercy
Listen to me, y’all

 

And That’s How the Tube Map Was Born!

We all love metro maps, which is clear regarding the franchase produced with them. Mugs, ties, tot bags,….

But, how the idea came to life is a different story.

Small Thing. Big Idea., a TED series “celebrates the lasting genius of everyday objects so perfectly designed that they changed the world around them”, presents the creation of one of the greatest maps of all times : the metro maps!

Click here to watch! Enjoy!

Visualisation of Airbnb Through the Years

Kor Dwarshuis visualised Airbnb boom in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin and New York since the foundation of Airbnb to 2017.

The maps show the striking increase in the numbers as well as the distribution and clustering of the Airbnb flats in these cities.

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The maps also pose a question of the commodification of the couch as well as the scale of the unregulated holiday lets in these major cities.

It is also quite fun to explore 🙂 Click here to see more.

Sneaky Privatisation: Pseudo-public Spaces

A Guardian investigation revealed the expansion of pseudo-public spaces in London recently.

Pseudo-public spaces – large squares, parks and thoroughfares that appear to be public but are actually owned and controlled by developers and their private backers – are on the rise in London and many other British cities, as local authorities argue they cannot afford to create or maintain such spaces themselves.

Although they are seemingly accessible to members of the public and have the look and feel of public land, these sites – also known as privately owned public spaces or “Pops” – are not subject to ordinary local authority bylaws but rather governed by restrictions drawn up the landowner and usually enforced by private security companies. (Guardian)

The map demonstrates the locations and distribution of these spaces in London. It lists 46 known pseudo-public spaces in the city. The expansion of these areas is quite widespread within the city boundaries.

This is a critical issue regarding the role of public spaces in socialisation as well as citizen’s right to access to open spaces. These privately-owned spaces are accessed by the discretion of the landowners as well as controlled by the private security staff in some cases, which means that the use of the space and the behaviours within these spaces are also under control by some rules other than laws or common legislations.

It gets interesting when 12 other cities, including Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Leeds and Glasgow, rejected revealing the information about the pseudo-public spaces located ion these cities. This poses a question of the level of expansion of these spaces. It also poses another, and even more critical question regarding the production and perception of public space:

Is pseudo-public space becoming a mainstream way of public space provision in the UK?

 

 

 

BEAUTÉ BRUT: Brazilian Museum of Sculpture

Paulo Mendes da Rocha’s Brazilian Museum of Sculpture in São Paulo, Brazil is a simple yet provocative design that uses a large beam to give the museum a presence, while also fulfilling the need for shade and shelter for the exterior plaza. (Archidose)

Though MuBE took shape in the late 1980s, significantly after Brutalism’s heyday, it is a striking example of the Paulista School style—the international movement’s Brazilian iteration. As such, Mendes da Rocha—who received a Golden Lion at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale and the 2006 Pritzker Prize—embraced the large-scale, bulky forms that raw concrete naturally facilitates, manifested in the nearly-200-foot beam atop the museum. Containing offices, an art school, and open, concrete galleries, the museum itself is built largely below ground, so as to respect the surrounding green space. (Rachel Lebowitz)

 

Image Credits: Archdaily, Danda, Artsy

 

Istanbul Urban Layers

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Istanbul Urban Database is an excellent work and amazing database for urban researchers and activist alike.

an accessible, interactive mapping platform for historians, architects, city planners and other researchers to examine and contribute to the collective memory of Istanbul. This project is a sustainable platform that blends a wide range of historical data, and is the most comprehensive online archive of Istanbul’s urban history. (Istanbul Urban Database)

It is an ongoing project developed by Nil Tuzcu, a researcher based at MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning.

Istanbul Urban Database currently has 8 categories: base maps, transportation, photos, major roads, spaces of everyday life, housing, master plans, and growth: Base maps include aerial photos, Jacques Pervititch insurance maps which were drawn between 1921 and 1946, and several Ottoman era maps provided by the Harvard Map Collection.  (Istanbul Urban Database)

 A massive thank you to Nil for developing such a platform for urbanist and urban historians.

The Devil is in the Details – Bugs in the Project Catalogues

When I first started the analysis of housing project catalogues, I wouldn’t think this is going to be such an experience! I would say, it was quite hilarious, well, on occasion 🙂

Before you read more, I have to say, the issues I am talking about here are not related to the analysis itself at all, but all about my experience.

Let me start first with the moment when I felt like playing Where’s Wally?  It was fun to play this game when I was a kid. We all know Wally is hidden somewhere in the picture with a bunch of other people, etc. But, in the catalogues, of course, I was looking for particular things, not Wally. I would say it was a little bit more complicated than finding Wally 🙂

While analysing this catalogue visual below, I felt exhausted, too much details, too many people. It was that moment I felt like I am looking for Wally again 🙂 Look at the people planted in the visual 😀

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Then I realized some awkward details in the visuals.

Another hilarious moment of my experience was the moment I realized someone hid a scene from The Walking Dead in one of the catalogues! Check this out:

wdThese four guys are absolutely not aware of what is going on around, but just wandering like zombies! Seriosly, guys, what were you thinking while designing this? Too much coffee perhaps 😀

Another scene from a zombie apocalypse below. Seriously, where those people are looking at? Or it may be an alien invasion, who knows 😀 (Yes, I am a sci-fi fan, so)

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It was a moment of enlightenment for me 🙂 I was focused and concentrated on my work, then all of a sudden, I saw these group of people, all looking at the sky and various sides, indifferent of the place they were in… They were so randomly placed in the visual, it was quite funny to discover.

I even discovered some ghosts wandering around like these guys below. OK you would say, “well, it might be a tehnique”. Sorry but no, I am not buying it.

Ant it was the time I felt like I am looking at a scene from Romero movie when I saw this shopping trolley on the grass! Yes a trolley!
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I would say, this is a criticism to the designers of the catalogues, and an honest advice!

Pay more attention the figures you place in your works guys. One day an over-enthusiastic researcher may look at much more deeper than you would think 🙂

To be continued 😉