Love old folk, hate bad architecture

by robertmcnicol

As both of my avid readers will know, I’m not one to harp on about bad architecture. We have to look at it enough in our daily grinds, so – my thinking goes – let’s not pollute the clean, pristine, unsullied wonder that is the internet with such unwholesome images as the pictures you are about to see.

However, I have a wonderful bus commute which is ruined by this vile construction having been plonked down on Edward Street (or possibly Eastern Road – it’s difficult to know when one becomes the other).

Oh my. Take another look, if you dare. IT’S HIDEOUS! It is a meritless, witless, graceless building. It is at once brutal and ramshackle. And the good people at Hanover spent £13.6 million on this wondrous block of retirement apartments for the old folk of Brighton. Let’s see what else they could have got for their money.

Ooh, look – they could have bought Pasta King! “Healthy Tasty Fasta Pasta!”

See. Surely that would be less offensive. OK. So. Why is it so bad? Get your protective eyegear on, we’re going in for a closer look.

This bit’s nasty. The bars across the doors are just mean. Would a balcony or five have killed you, Hanover? And then there’s the windows. The formation flips on every storey, giving this terrible sense of restlessness. Those bars seem to zig-zag down the middle; there’s no sense of balance. If there wasn’t so much coma-inducing just-white wall in between all those cheap, undecorated uPVC openings you’d fear for the block’s stability.

Then there’s the brickwork.

Two-tone! Whoop! I love bricks, I love them more than maple syrup. I love the way the Victorians used blue ones and red ones and yellow ones and pink ones…. Great stuff. This, though, this is wrong. Here we have a big block of brown in the same building as another big block of a slightly lighter brown. Sheesh.

Bay windows. Everyone loves a nice bay window. It harks back to a fine Regency tradition. Lovely; let’s put one on every floor:

AAAAAAARRRGGGHHHHH!!!! What the ‘eck is that?! That’s not a bay window – that’s a mistake, surely. Someone could get a nasty cut on the corner of that.

The roof. Surely the gently sweeping, calming green roof can’t offend…

This is what we in the aesthetic trade call an ogee. Alan Hollinghurst calls it the line of beauty. It’s use here, though, is terrible. See that drainpipe on the left, reaching the roof at the bottom of the curve? That’s because that’s where the precipitation will collect. That drain gets blocked, they’ve got a leaky roof. But – more importantly – it looks like a the building’s just starting down the road to a comb-over. Not best. But dear old Hanover loved this feature so much, they used it as a motif!

Check out those delightful wavy railings! How quaint! And they’re not just on that penthouse suite, they’re all around the property.

I love old folk and I truly hope that the people who live in these flats can cherish them and delight in their new homes. But surely we can do better than this. Surely the old folk of Brighton can have somewhere modern and safe and comfortable to live that is also at least attractive to look at. Unlike the good people at Hanover, I think age and beauty can share the same space.

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