Monday, 27 September 2010

The dreary and the cheery

In Union Street in Southwark you can find this recent Travelodge, much of its elevations made of the kind of dark grey 'fairfaced' blockwork normally confined to the insides of plant rooms and suchlike. While apparently many people find Southwark's planners pretty picky, they seem to have let this one go.

Close to this dreary hotel, you can find, on the corner of Dolben Street and Bear Lane (and opposite an extraordinary new building by Panter Hudspith, to which I will return) something much cheerier: a new block of flats where the choice of external materials has lifted a building rather than spoiling it - in this case, a glorious green glazed brick, used to great effect on a big curved wall (the photo above does not do justice to the colour at all). The architects are Association of Ideas (AOI).

Taken together, these are two good examples of how the planning system appears to be too busy obsessing about all sorts of things that don't matter very much to pay much attention to things that do matter. If all the planners controlled was external materials, and if they did that job well, might that be a better system than the one we have?

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