Saturday, May 14, 2005

A Landmark Carbuncle?

Attached are some photographs of a building that is going up opposite
Southwark Tube at the moment. I'm afraid I find it hideous. If it were a
regular cuboid glass office block, it wouldn't be too bad - at least it
would fit in with everything else - but in my opinion the strange overhang
destroys any beauty it may have had. It is very unattractive. It makes the
building look unbalanced and top-heavy. Who designed this? Particularly
with the occasional yellow panel in the otherwise glass and black
construction, it looks very much like a nursery school playtime with Lego
bricks. What on earth possessed Southwark's planning authorities to allow

A Landmark Carbuncle?

A Landmark Carbuncle?

A Landmark Carbuncle?


At 16:35, Blogger The Peter Files Blog of Comedy said...


First, thanks for visiting my blog, your comment inspired a long clarification on my quick review of the Amazing film version of Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Link to your comments on my very silly blog

Second, I'd just like to say that on my side of the pond one hardly ever sees the word "carbuncle" in print, especially in relationship to the word landmark, even more so in the context of what is presumably thought of as transit oriented development. Well done.

And carbuncle is so evocative, evenmore so because it suggests debacle and is even more so if there is massive parking in that building next to the tube.

Hard for me to gauge a design until it is complete. There are things that can be done to mitigate what looks like a disaster in the middle of completion.

Millenium Park's Concert shell looked like it would fall into that category until it was done and you were under it. Then it was sweeping and magnificent. Highly unlikely in this case. On the other hand, the reconstructed Soldier Field on CHicago's lakeshore looks rather like a Volgon cruiser has landed upon one of our landmarks and desecated it.

Now if the overhang supports beautiful hanging flower gardens cascading into the streetscape below, also unlikely, it might also be an asset.

Or perhaps it will hold a restaurant, not quite at the end of the universe, but arranged so that diners can look out and people below can look up and see them.

It all depends.

Or perhaps when done it will look a lot like Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair. I hope for your sake it does not look like W.

Worse yet it does look a bit like the Donald's signature hairstyle.

Does it really deserve the term "Landmark"? Perhaps it replaced one. Now that would be sad. There's a tie in to Hitchhiker's for you.

Perhaps you can put in a petition for a bypass?

I just hope that they have a proper design for the glass windows. When windows hanging over the sidewalk or street start to pop out because of faulty design, age or happened here in Chicago (but not with an overhanging building like this) the results could be really tragic.

I think it happened with the CNA building, The John Hancock Building, Huge Marble Sheets on the Amoco Building - I think in at least one local case deaths were caused by falling debris.

At least the building is not being put up by the (lowest bidder) government.

All the best,


Come back and visit again.

Will be adding more Chicago Photos now that I have figured out how to do so easily.

Feel free to add me to your sidebar if you like. Still new at this.


At 16:37, Blogger The Peter Files Blog of Comedy said...

Maybe it is supposed to be an ersatz "T" for the tube that it overlooks?

Is there a bus stop underneath that the overhang protects?

Form following function?


At 15:26, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The carbuncle is called Palestra, and was designed as an office development by Alsop Architects.
Will Alsop's a mad architect, and i love him for having half a brain. Hes the author of a very popular and debatable book called SuperCity, which i would recommend reading, and he also designed the Peckham Library. Theres a wikipedia entry about him,

I think Palestra just grows on you over time. I love the skewed geometry of having the building up at an angle so it looks like its crashing into the pavement, and held up by those apparently random columns. The overhanging volume on top reflects the clouds. Everything about the facade is quirky, from the tricoloured ceramic frit to the windmills on top. He's one of the few architects who isnt afraid of colour or shape or sensuality and humour, and i do think Southwark's Planning is very progressive and brave for promoting interesting architecture. The modern built environment must reflect they way we feel and live today, and not the way things were done 30 years ago, but there are no easy answers to these questions and thats why experiementation is so important. Hats off to Alsop and his generation of thinkers who arent afraid to put their head on the chopping block, and to the borough for being committed to the aspirations of people rather than just doing things as cheaply and efficiently as possible.


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