Themes #03 – Architecture

Welcome to this my third blog in my Theme series where I set out the reasons behind my recent selection. Over the past week I’ve posted pictures through my social media channels, and now I can give you a little more detail behind each picture.

I’m using the current Covid-19 lockdown period as an opportunity to showcase more pictures that may previously not have had any prominence, either through my travel blogs or more recently through my Memory collection. 

This week’s theme is all about the diverse ‘Architecture’ we enjoy around London, and I’ve compiled them into the following categories: Residential, Industrial, Stations, Commercial, Windows & Doors, Station Fixtures & Fittings and Street Furniture. I think the category titles are self explanatory.

I’ve selected these pictures on the basis that a) they’re an obvious fit, b) I like it’s artistic and/or photographic quality, and c) it has a good story to tell. I hope you agree, but feel free to drop me a line if you’d like to have any other suggestions?

Residential – Southwyck House

a black and white picture of the facade of Southwyck House in Brixton. Made up plain bricks, small windows and a zig-zag feature to brak up the plain view

I wrote about this during my Brixton visit but felt it was worthy of a second airing.
Southwyck House looks vastly like a prison with a concrete zigzag to delineate the frontage with its co-joining staircase looking like a caged pen to keep the inmates in. This is a housing complex built in the 1970’s in anticipation of a motorway flyover which was never built.

One commentator records that it is known locally as ‘Barrier Block’ as indeed that was its design purpose. Hideous to think that this social housing was considered acceptable enough to be built. The architectural design whilst creating some features, does nothing to uplift the feeling of isolation and incarceration the building exudes.

My thanks though to @brixtonbuzz who has drawn my attention to the fact that ‘The Barrier Block actually provides a high standard of social housing. The back is all windows and open balconies’

Although taken in black and white to add effect, to be honest, the building creates the drama itself.

  • Location: Southwyck House which sits along Coldharbour Lane in Brixton
  • Date/Time: Tuesday May 28th 2019 at 11.27 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 33mm; Film Speed – ISO100

Industrial – Overhead Tension

a collection of pulleys and wires set against a blue sky

I’ve debated whether this should be included under the ‘Architect’ theme as it’s more a piece of engineering. However I’m content that engineering is a form of architecture in that it’s not only functional but as this image portrays, it has a design element too.

This is a collection of pulleys and tension bars keeping the overhead electric cables taught. I saw the image in my mind, and set against a cloudy blue sky, this helps to highlight it’s elevated position.

It’s a simple shot, but not one you would normally see unless you happen to be standing on Bethnal Green Overground station platform looking up admiring the overhead infrastructure.

  • Location: Standing on Bethnal Green Overground station looking at the overhead electric cabling
  • Date/Time: Friday July 12th 2019 at 10.48 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ8; Shutter Speed – 1/500; Focal Length – 55mm; Film Speed – ISO100

Stations – Euston Plaza

a dull blue/grey view of a hidden part of Eustaon Plaza with a high rise view as the backdrop and the foregound focussing on a white tiles walkway and stairs

With few exceptions, the stations I’ve visited have been predominantly rural and styled in the first half of the 20th century. And the main termini in Central London modelled and shaped by the gothic style favoured by the victorians.

But Euston station is different. Re-built as part of the concrete revolution in the 1960’s and not to everyone’s taste. It’s a functional station, but yet it too has its charms when you look deeply into its nooks and crannies.

This isn’t an obvious shot, and not a location you would see unless you went looking for it. It’s by the bike park under the bus terminal canopy at the front of the station and I’m looking up at the office tower at 1 Eversholt Street.

I’m attracted to the almost black and white colour palette and distinctive 60’s tiled stairwell and overhead walkway which classically evokes the architectural style of its period. The reference to the bikes is intentional to demonstrate the station’s transient purpose. I’ve emphasised the blue tone in the final image to highlight the white tiles against the industrial building facades that surround them.

  • Location: Behind the main plaza at Euston Station
  • Date/Time: Thursday May 24th 2018 at 11.25 am
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/200; Focal Length – 21mm; Film Speed – ISO100

Commercial – Pure Geometry

an array of square blocks each with a cross pattern creating a visual pattern

This is the facade to one of Watford town centre’s car parks.
The structure is a simple one made of a wall of building blocks consisting of four square segments, each of which has a cross pattern. No doubt architecturally sound, but the end result is visually stunning.

I suspect quite a quick and relatively cheap way to build, but I’m not judging it on it’s constructional or economic qualities but on it’s visual impact.

Whether you stand close or from afar, the effect is mesmerising, and maybe I should issue a health warning to migraine sufferers (of which I am one), as staring at the spots may trigger some visual disturbance.

This may appear a simple shot to take, but I had to exercise patience as the facade covers the parking bays and in some shots I captured the red parking lights as drivers arrive/leave. Whilst these made for a different outcome, I wanted to highlight an undistracted simplicity to this structure, which this example brings. I like it…

  • Location: CitiPark, Church Street, Watford
  • Date/Time: Tuesday June 18th 2019 at 12.29 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ7.1; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length – 28mm; Film Speed – ISO100

Windows & Doors – The Seedier Side of Watford Hospital

some tired looking doors and windows in a corner of this old hospital with water damage from downpipes on show. The colours are drab which highlights this tired view

First of all, let me confess I have a ‘thing’ for windows and doors. I can’t explain it but I’m always drawn to them when on holiday. Maybe it’s because of their variety, colour or location. Whatever the reason I know I’m not alone with this enjoyment and I feel it’s right that I have this as one of my Architecture categories.

I’m looking at the outbuildings facing Vicarage Road, and believe this is the corner of the Social Services unit and the Chaplaincy. The scene portrays a somewhat unloved corner of the hospital complex and no doubts reflects the significant challenges faced in maintaining a large NHS Trust these days.

The colours are slightly enhanced to emphasise the state of disrepair, but nevertheless not a welcoming site to new or returning visitors who pass by here whilst alighting from the adjacent bus stop.

  • Location: Watford General Hospital, Vicarage Road, Watford
  • Date/Time: Tuesday August 20th 2019 at 1.05 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5; Shutter Speed – 1/125; Focal Length – 45mm; Film Speed – ISO100

Station Fixtures & Fittings – Arched Pipework

looking up into the roof void of this platform canopy , taken in black and white. the view shows off the symmetrical arched duct work intersected with rainwater down pipes

This picture is indicative of the station’s Victorian architectural character with the view taken through the supporting roof arches holding up the central platform’s canopy.
A simple shot taken from the staircase leading from the platforms, and looking down the length of the ironwork to capture the symmetry of the supporting arches.
Although taken originally in colour, the station colour scheme is predominantly black, echoing the Underground’s Northern Line style. I have though applied a black and white filter to give the otherwise faded colouring a bit of life.

  • Location: High Barnet Northern Line Underground Station
  • Date/Time: Tuesday January 21st 2020 at 12.40 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ6.3; Shutter Speed – 1/400; Focal Length – 70mm; Film Speed – ISO6400

Street Furniture – Walking Through Litter

a black and white shot taken through the opening of a littler bin framing a couple walking through

This is Lovers Walk, a small passageway which invited me in to take its picture, but I can’t find a composition that works well.
Almost walking away, I realise I’m leaning against a litter bin and notice its two open mouths face through to the passageway providing an interesting perspective. 

As I crouch down, I spot a young couple walking through the frame and I set about taking a series of shots composing their approach as the centrepiece; and they oblige unwittingly by keeping to the centre of the path.

Sometimes, you have to smile as the opportunities present themselves, as the lesson here is always be ready to capture that moment.

  • Location: Peering down Lover’s Walk, just off Ballards Lane, Finchley Central
  • Date/Time: Tuesday SEptember 24th 2019 at 1.49 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/160; Focal Length – 47mm; Film Speed – ISO500

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