Wednesday, 6 June 2012


These new houses under construction in South Kensington looked interesting out of the corner of the eye - something novel, striking, a bit edgy for SW7 perhaps? 

But on getting things into focus, it became clear that the cladding isn't on yet.  In this neck of the woods we can expect something bland and tasteful to cover up the interesting looking and pleasingly arranged array of fixing brackets that can be seen today. 

Buildings often look more interesting under construction than when they are finished.  Berthold Lubetkin complained that Owen Williams' (and Sir Robert 'Concrete Bob' McAlpine's) beautiful in situ concrete frame for the Dorchester Hotel was ruined once William Curtis Green's dreary cladding went on.  And the probably apocryphal story of the exchange between Colonel Seifert and Richard Rogers ('When are they getting the scaffolding off that Lloyds building of yours?' 'When are they going to finish off the top of your Nat West Tower?') concerns two very different buildings that (maybe) have in common a deliberate aesthetic of 'work in progress'.  

The sales strapline on the hoarding here is 'there is a story behind these walls'.  God knows what they mean by that, but probably not the brackets.

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