Friday 12 July 2013

Too Many Tall Buildings

My Boris Johnson
Weathervane plan
for the Shard.
I've given some attention to tall buildings in the past few weeks and months, from serene campaniles to Sixties campuses.

Today Simon Jenkins, chairman of the National Trust, wrote in the Guardian about the colossal towers soon to spring up in developments all over London; what they will be for; who says yes or no; and why anyone wants them.  As you might guess, he is largely in the "against" position.

Here is the piece:  Who let this Gulf on Thames scar London?  Mayor Boris.

In the last decade, mayor Ken Livingstone was all about tall buildings and the futuristic lens-flare of prosperity that would bounce off their gleaming fa├žades and all over London.  Now Jenkins is pointing the finger at Boris Johnson for opposing in principle and allowing in practice.

Otto's illustration for the Guardian. 

Jenkins writes:  "Towers imply civic leadership weak in the face of commercial pressure. They are not "vital" to the urban economy, least of all in a low-density city such as London. The last rash of speculative towers such as Centre Point in the 1970s mostly lay empty until rented for government offices. Today's are not built for people to use but as sleeping bank accounts for funk money. The Shard may well stay largely empty, like One Hyde Park and the palaces of Palm Island, Dubai. The rich may own them, but not inhabit them."

London in 2259, in Star Trek Into Darkness.

To me, the Shard, Heron Tower, the Walkie Talkie, the Cheesegrater and all the coming statements of bigness were referenced - almost satirised - in the new Star Trek, as the early phase of a monolithic sprouting all over the city (which, I admit, is hardly new).  What do you think?  Are your eyes set twinkling, or do you see a future of grand embarrassment over empty projects, or grim dystopia?

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Optical Lattice Clock

The news this morning told me about a new type of clock, better than an atomic clock!  The whole thing seemed exciting and optimistic in an old-fashioned way.  I imagined children gossiping about the new technological wonder; explanations in layman's terms; textbooks of the future; and so on.

So here are those things.

Fanfare for a new clock!

Read about it at the BBC.
I like living in the future!

Friday 5 July 2013

London Film & Comic Con 2013!

I've finally got my new booklet together!  It's about the Shard, as you might have guessed from previous posts.

Today I'm taking a bunch of them, and some of the older ones, up to LFCC at Earl's Court 2.  Somewhere among the cosplayers and comic sellers, Fun Times Group will have six stalls, between over twenty of us.

My boxes of booklets for LFCC.
It's on throughout Saturday and Sunday, and we're setting up this afternoon, in time for the preview evening.

I'm not sure what to expect - either of the LFCC world, or of my tolerance for it.  Our stalls might be like nothing else there.  We have large prints, brooches and jewellery, posters and booklets.  Come and find us!

The Shard books are finished - the Shard isn't.

Wednesday 3 July 2013

Southampton Mosaic

Here is Southampton's newest bit of public art (until the rhinos appear all over town in a couple of weeks' time).  I found it today, on a detour through the old town, right around the corner from the Hamtun Street mural by Henry and Joyce Collins.

The artist, Joanna Dewfall, does a lot of participatory projects, and this mural comes out of workshops at Tudor House (see this article on the Tudor House website).  From the plaque:
This mural was designed and produced by artist Joanna Dewfall, inspired by ideas from local people.  The design celebrates the city's iconic buildings, maritime industry and cultural diversity.
The central panel made by Joanna ( is a snapshot of Southampton in the 21st century.  The border symbolises key features from the city's past and present, and was produced by local people.
I'm enjoying picking out details and references.  It's a great addition to any walk around the town.