Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mouth to mouth

A day of sunshine from early morning got me out with my camera.

I intended to trace the route of the Ouseburn stream from one side of the culvert it was put into by Victorian 'improvers' to the other. I did but I soon discovered I had been away from the Lower Ouseburn for too long ...

Much has been going on; what I thought might be a stroll turned into a longer walk and many thought provoking sights. Too many to pile into this post. So I will restrain myself and hold to my first and original purpose to take a modest stroll in Spring sunshine. The rest will have to wait.

Ouseburn 25.02.14

As is now usual for this blog, I am posting photographic albums that are stored off site. Please open in a new tab if you don't want to lose the link to BtB.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Reach for the TV Control!

Just in!

BBC Four television is broadcasting (10 p.m. BST Thursday 20th February 2014) a programme devoted to the life, options and character of the late great Ian Nairn. It's a must!

The Man Who Fought the Planners: The Story of Ian Nairn
Radio Times
Review by:
David Brown
Architecture critics Jonathan Meades and Jonathan Glancey are among those lining up to pay tribute to Ian Nairn, a man whose blistering attack on the soulless destruction of Britain by shoddy postwar planning caused a stir in 1955.

Published as a special issue of the Architectural Review, Nairn’s Outrage stated that cities were losing their individuality and spirit thanks to “subtopian” eyesores.

Here, we see how that piece of work led to both the formation of the Civic Trust and a career in the media for Nairn, whose angry and emotional appearances on the BBC proved to be refreshingly unconventional. 

Source: http://www.radiotimes.com

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Oh, Good! Something To Watch

Something worthwhile on the telly? Sounds much too far fetched. But today's Guardian promises a new television series by Jonathan Meades is soon to be broadcast on the Post War architecture style known as Brutalism .

I ought to say (nay! Announce!) that for me, Mr Meades can do no wrong.

The Guardian article (link) lists ten examples of Brutalism that Jonathan Meades singles out as noteworthy. One to make the list that I knew well, is the late and by me lamented, Trinity Square Multi-storey car park, demolished to make way for a bland retro-chic re-development, part massive student housing (well, there will soon be no room to sit down at uni) over a mega-market run by one of the country's most rapacious retailers and serial land bank hoarders.

I can't wait to tune into the great man's thoughts.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

'Giving substance to mere wind' – Orwell

Yesterday … It may have been Friday … I had the misguided idea to follow a link to the Newcastle City Council's website and read one of their "strategy statements" outlining plans for the next wave of alterations to this once marvellous city to be imposed on what is, by any standard, a quiescent populace; as if punched and bullied into a corner waiting for the bell to ring.

I glazed over as I read one 'plug and go' generic sentence following another, the deadening prose of choice of the MBA clones that write this muck for large salaries. The impressive part – impressive to beginners I suppose – is the way substance is conjured out of mere wind. Nothing is said that could not be unsaid or denied, altered, changed, transformed or 'negotiated' out of recognition.

Today I came across this piece by The Observer newspaper's architecture critic Rowan Moore commenting on a development proposal written along somewhat similar lines. Mr Moore's powers of derision are masterful. Read it for yourself by following this link.

Just in case the link lapses or there just isn't enough time in your life to lose studying the linguistic skills of charlatans, I hope Mr Moore (and his paper) will excuse a juicy quote on this blog.

"Westminster and the Edwardian group (*), however, expressed their excitement by dropping the lacquered turds of regenerative PR-speak. It would create 400 jobs, they said, ignoring the fact it would be possible to create jobs on this site and still keep the best of the old structures. They spoke of "the spiritual home of British entertainment and cinema", whose spirit they will sap. The development would be "iconic", "a focal point", and would bring "renewed vibrancy". As the great writer Ian Martin recently pointed out "vibrancy" is weasel talk for social cleansing. A pub, you might think, could be vibrant, but that hasn't saved the Hand &am Racquet."

'… lacquered turds of regenerative PR-speak'. Nice one, Rowan.

(* Developers, not a conservation society devoted to Edwardian art and life. AD.)