How buildings are born

Just look around you and ponder… how did all of these buildings come into being? Well, being a thoughtful kind of cat, I’m always prepared to share my insights on any topic that takes my fancy as I stroll around the city of Cardiff. Please feel free to send your questions on a postcard!

In the case of appreciating our built environment, Kate Bush once implied that it all begins with An Architects Dream

Architects dream

Then there is the gestation period; and for this we can thank the Sage of Gateshead for informing our knowledge of how the pupae develop over the months of construction…

Sage [3]

Then we come to the actual birth; and being delicate structures frequently subjected to architectural critique, a forceps delivery is the more usual method…

Capital Quarter new build [1]

Then it’s a matter of all hands to the pump to pull the newborn into position…

Industrial heritage

Very soon the more mature buildings give way to their younger curvier offspring…

Groovy curvy building

Until they are brave and confident enough to stand tall on their own foundations…

Spiky joint

Sunshine [2]

 

 

Until we speak again this Bella will be contemplating why the sun always shines in Cardiff!!??

What’s wrong with the old?

You talking to me?Juno never did seem to mind sharing her living space with what she would occasional refer to as an ‘old git’ (as long as she was fed to order, and everyone present fully respected her generosity in sharing HER home). But then her sprightly demeanour belied a substantial number of cat’s years (but beware never to ask a lady her age!).

She was also a secretly avid inquirer into the state of contemporary architecture and the ebbing and flowing trends between conservation and speculation. She always seemed content with her move from the Victorian terraced splendour of London to the relative modernity of docklands regeneration in Cardiff. But, she would occasionally suggest to me, as the cooler of cats have a tendency to do, that the race to build empty new offices to the detriment of the existing architectural gems was a tad out of balance (though I’m not entirely sure that ‘tad’ was one of her preferred turns of phrase).

“Where is your evidence for such assertions?” I would remonstrate. To which she would less than politely retort “Try walking around the place with your eyes open, specky!” She had a point… about the architecture that is, not about me! Just take a look at what’s up in the so-called Capital Quarter these days…

New offices

Right next to the newest largely empty office building is the erection of, you guessed it, another soon to be largely empty office building; with a crane out of view to the left starting on the foundations for… drum roll… another largely to be empty office building! Better than the previous derelict land, some might say; but the best productive use of such land? Guess who got to decide on that conundrum, the landowners & property developers or the creative locally knowledgeable minds of the indigenous folk?

What the world really needs now is more of the blandly cold looking accumulations of glass and steel that will be completely out of bounds to the vast majority of people living in the local area. Meanwhile, a mile down the road, we get to see the stranger side of the coin, as buildings that could surely outlast the current soulless edifices under construction receive treatment of a very different variety…

IMAG1298

While even more grand old edifices remain in a derelict condition, instead of receiving the attention that would restore their iconic visage…

IMAG1326

We seem to have developed an aesthetic ability to allow perfectly functioning historic buildings of architectural interest to rot to a point where more clamour mounts to have them bull-dozed. Then seemingly replaced by something altogether shiny but more flimsy and of a lesser potential lifespan. Juno would occasionally imply that these old buildings, even in their run down state of deliberate neglect, are far more visually interesting than the newer upstarts (or at least that is how I chose to interpret her meow responses when I was talking about architecture to her!). But then I would expect nothing less from a beautiful cat!

Until we speak again examine your own reflections on the possibilities of restoring the majesty of what we already have, before we rush to over-populate the built environment with a myriad of bland lookalike boxes (or don’t… however the mood takes you).

Serendipity

Atlantic WharfHere’s the thing… while taking a quiet stroll around the gentle backwaters and streets of the former world renowned docklands, and more recent industrial wastelands, you never know what pleasant surprise might befall you. Why, just the other day while I was contemplating the historical significance of my home surroundings, I was suddenly confronted by a strange vision of the future yet to be imagined.

Take a slide on the downside, Silicon Valley… rip your heart out, Seoul… give way, Tech RoundaboutCardiff is making its creative play for the crowning mantle in technological advances. First there was the phone, then there was the TV, now it is the turn of the, well… ‘up, over and down thing’. For the Danes and Swedes it has become the focal point for joint adventures into gruesome murder mysteries. But, in Cardiff it is making a play for the mantle of knowledge and urban savvy. Herald the age of the…

Smart Bridge [1] Smart Bridge [2]

 

 

 

 

Until we meet again I am going to be a baffled Juno pondering the question “just what the hell do we do with it?”