Thursday, September 7, 2023



Serendipity calls. Two massive buildings by Giles Gilbert Scott, visited within 5 days of each other. Neither visit deliberately planned really, but what a wonderful experience.

The cathedral is stone and serving it's original purpose, (with a sideline in tourism) Battersea Power station is red brick and dramatically transformed for new uses. Such a powerful form, it really holds the whole scheme together in a way no modern structure could.

But why not? In theory there is nothing stopping someone designing a structure like this for its current mix of uses. The whimsical curves and wibbly-wobbly geometry of the new build derives much of its logic as a counterpoint to that soaring mass of masonry. On its own it would just be wishy-washy.

So it seems to me.


I do love my brickwork. English Bond from Battersea power station. Not load bearing as far as I know but it may be able to carry its own weight.

The main structure carrying the roof is definitely steel but how the brick cladding relates to that exactly, I'm not sure. Could be just tied back at intervals, or it could be explicitly supported on steel angles with soft joints between "storeys". I suspect the former.

Either way it's a magnificent piece of work, despite the fact that the bricklayers have strayed off quarter lap on the left hand side of the close up. Not sure why this is, doesn't seem to be case when I zoom in on the left hand pic.

Just the kind of thing you obsess about when you spent a few years working as a bricklayer. Overall design, craftsmanship and renovation strategy are all admirable. So glad I got to see this building close up on this visit.


Inside Battersea power station where the black metal aesthetic reigns supreme.

Bits and pieces of old industrial gear contrast nicely with the warmth of brick and the transparency of glass. Overscaled relics like this gantry crane take the edge off slick Modernism. Hasn't it always been so?



And for the "where's Wally" enthusiasts, perhaps you can spot my two grandsons racing ahead of me, despite their back packs. I only I could siphon off just one tenth of the excess energy of the younger one to top up my depleted tank 🤣🤣🤣

Five years ago I would have spent much longer walking around and taken a couple of hundred digital snaps. Well, times change and we are wise to accept our limitations and adapt our behavior.

It's still just as wonderful to be alive as ever.


Battersea Park to Clapham Junction. I've been really enjoying all these little railway journeys in UK. Always transported back to Victorian times. Nothing remotely similar as an experience in Dubai.

Polychrome brickwork infill below 4-ring elliptical arches. I wonder how many makeovers those "leftover" spaces have had in their eventful lives. Fascinating to see plant life still battling to get the better of human endeavour. Sprouting from every nook and cranny.

The timber fretwork fascia of the second image is so evocative of railway architecture. In silhouette here it's perfect framing for the layered composition. Layers of history in fact. An open footbridge, roofed over, then glazed in? How else to explain those blue arch-top beams.

And the office tower behind. Oddly compelling with its hint of Italian rationalism. There's so much to see in these snapshots. None of it precious. No claims to high art status. But they have a visceral appeal for me. 

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