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Thread: Details matter - Chiswick - London << CONTAINS PICTURES >>

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    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Details matter - Chiswick - London << CONTAINS PICTURES >>

    This is my first attempt at a post with photos, so bear with me if this goes horribly wrong...

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    I will keep this post within reasonable limits (not too many pics).
    I live in Chiswick, a 'suburb' of London. The point of this little photo essay is to show how the lack of attention to detail has doomed much modern construction to mediocrity and dissatisfaction. All teh comments are architectural in nature; I have no specific urban design points to make here (but other posts will...)


    A common vernacular form in London, throughout the Victorain/Edwardian period during which much of Chiswick was built up, is red brick with white plaster detailing. Here is an example among many.



    The building below (public housing I think), across the street, conversely, is post-war. An attempt has been made to reproduce the scale and basic color/materails pattern of older buildings. Certainly, it is less degraqding than the brutalist concrete towers utilized elsewhere in London for public housing. However, it compares poorly to the earlier example. Note that both pictures are taken from the Chiswick High Road.

    1. The new building is approached through a rather sloppy car park (the older building has car parking at the back).

    2. The window and door (where IS the door ?) detailing is poor in shape and execution, especially comapred to the older building

    3. there is altogether less symmetry, granularity and relief of mass in the newer building so that, despite having arguably bettter macro-proportions, it is clearly inferior.



    The buildings below were erected last year. They replaced a rather grim, old maternity hospital (where my first was born ). The architect (?) has made an effort to relieve the rather long, boring massing through stepping the depth of the buildings and bold use of color. The buildinsg are also broadly symmetric.

    Nonetheless, they represent a rather monotonous street wall, especially after the first couple of views, ocne the novelty of teh color has worn off. Now, try to imagine if the middle (larger) building adbeen set back by, say, a emre 10 yards, with maybe a couple of tree in front of it. Very different effect, hardly any extra cost.

    Some good idetails are included: the white 'trim' between the brick and the 'orange' plaster; the fluting in the roof flashing.



    However, the windows still look like they are bargain basement. But the REAL huge mistake is in the doors. They are tiny and out of scale with the building and the rather strong statement of the roof (the buildings look top-heavy). They look cheap, like service entrances; like they are ashamed of themeselves and their building.



    Once again, virtually across the street, we note how differently, equally affordable housing was built before architects went insane, evil and ignorant THAT is an entrance (and 'eccentrically enough' it is in the MIDDLE of the building, imagine that)



    Another building erected recently, a few steps down teh same road, had better detailing, especially around the entrance




    I'm not CRAZY about the building above, but it's a start.

    Lastly, to those who think I only liek very ornate buildings (though, yes, I do). here is a nice, older building which is very simple but looks good. Guess which building is worth more?

    Life and death of great pattern languages

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    Cyburbian Boru's avatar
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    Thank you for the photos. I have to attempt this mysefl soon enough.

    Luca, the one point I will make regards the second set of pictures. I agree that the doors are too small and dont emphasise the readability of the building. I prefer teh buildings as they are facing onto and addressing the street. They look like infill development and as such are probably near the town centre. Developments which are a few yards off the street front (usually with railings around them) play terribly on pedestrians perceptions regarding the safety of the street. 10 yards is quite a lot of yards.

    If it was your point that the 10 yards would not be enclosed as a part of the development, then would it be dead space to the front of the building?

    In my mind, the more street frontage the better.

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    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    The older building also fronts the street (indeed, the same street. it has virtually no front yard (just some planting)....not sure I understand your post correctly?

    (eengleesh ees my second language )
    Life and death of great pattern languages

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    Cyburbian Howard Roark's avatar
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    [QUOTE=Luca]This is my first attempt at a post with photos, so bear with me if this goes horribly wrong...

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    Arghh!

    Council Flats!


    So is the last building better because it is pretty or proportioned well? how much do you think cost was factored in to this? How much of this could be a "cultural reaction" specific to the UK (remember the post-war governments)

    Howard Roark
    resident evil architect
    She has been a bad girl, she is like a chemical, though you try and stop it she is like a narcotic.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    The first pic in your response I THINk is council flats, teh other two definitely are not.

    In an industrialized society, durable, low-maintenance ornament costs nothing. So cost is not really a big consideration; an idelogy or debasing the sublime does. Indeed, the more ornate Victorian and Edwardian houses in London tended to be cheaper (in PP-adjsuted terms) than plainer-lookign Georgian houses in London precisely because they were built more "industrially "produced (and also with poorer quality...).

    If people want to build 'modern' stuff that looks good they could always do Art Deco. Looks great, is modern and cheap as chips.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

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    Cyburbian Boru's avatar
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    Sorry I meant the 3rd photo. Obviously Unglish isnt my first language either.

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