Posts tagged with "England":
In a pastoral part of central England known for its stately homes and greenery, burglars made off this week with a valuable, if fairly unusual, piece of art. The theft took place around 4:50 a.m. at Blenheim Palace, a monumental country house in Oxfordshire, just northwest of London. The target of the crime? America, a 2016 sculpture of a fully-functional toilet crafted in 18-carat gold by the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan.
The toilet, which was previously housed in an upper-level lavatory at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, had been installed in one of Blenheim’s wood-paneled restrooms as part of an exhibition of Cattelan’s work. It was connected to the estate’s plumbing system, enabling visitors to actually use it—rare moments of intimacy with an object valued at well over one million dollars. According to the Sunday Times, overnight security was relaxed because Edward Spencer-Churchill, the display’s organizer, did not consider the toilet a prime target for burglars. As he told reporters when the piece was installed in August, “It’s not going to be the easiest thing to nick…Firstly, it’s plumbed in and secondly, a potential thief will have no idea who last used the toilet or what they ate.” Neither factor seemed an adequate deterrent for the thieves last week.
The crime caused significant damage to the palace beyond the loss of the art itself, as from photos, it appears the thieves simply ripped the fixture from the wall and left. The ruptured piping spawned a minor flood and one of the doors to the room was completely destroyed. While the display is now cordoned off, the toilet has yet to be recovered, prompting concerns that it may have been melted down. Authorities claim that a group of offenders used two vehicles to carry out the burglary but have only arrested one 66-year-old man in connection with the crime.
Cattelan himself highlighted the irony of the incident, pointing out that he created America to give ordinary people direct access to an extraordinary object. As he told The New York Times this weekend, “America was the one percent for the 99 percent, and I hope it still is. I want to be positive and think the robbery is a kind of Robin Hood-inspired action. I wish it was a prank.”
And at the new pavilion, color is indeed everywhere. When approaching it, hints of a cacophony of color can be spied: pink tips pop out above the park’s perimeter wall; beyond the trees, glimpses of blue and red can be seen through the green. Closer inspection reveals thin, cuboid timber louvers (there are more than 2100) painted in green, yellow, blue, pink, red, and orange. The result makes the facade shimmer from the outside, blending the different tones in the process. Triangles and circles—motifs prevalent in Ilori’s work as a furniture designer—have been painted on the outside, causing the pavilion to look like a party hat. There’s an overriding sense of fun. But the kaleidoscopic baptism doesn’t end there. The giant party hat sits on four five-and-a-half-feet-wide bright red concrete columns—unpolished and raw, they rise up from the earth. A pink elevated walkway traces the structure’s perimeter, and a blue timber internal support structure keeps it all up. “Our work is very Euro-centric, Yinka’s is very West African,” Price explained. “We wanted to mix the two.” Ilori and Pricegore drew upon two precedents: an image of men carrying a thatched roof in West Africa and caryatids in Athens supporting the Parthenon's entablature. “Building in landscape, we wanted to lift the structure off the ground and retain the open sense of a garden,” added Gore. The pavilion, with its 1,560-square-foot base, is open on all four sides. Circles and triangles may adorn the exterior, but the square was most important to Pricegore, who deemed the shape essential to maintaining the structure's relationship to the adjacent Soane-designed gallery. Soane used a strict orthogonal regime to conceive the gallery's plan. So, too, has Pricegore, although the firm has offset the pavilion 45 degrees to the gallery to create a more welcoming dialog to visitors, allowing the various colors of the louvers to gradually change upon approach. Gore continued: “The pavilion is accessible to everyone. A child can enjoy this as much as an art critic.” The Colour Palace is the result of a partnership between the Dulwich Picture Gallery and the London Festival of Architecture. The pavilion is open to the public until September 22, 2019.View this post on Instagram
Colour Palace Inspiration : This image was part of my early inspiration and mood board when working on the Colour Palace in collaboration with PriceGore. Loved how the shop owners had beautiful curated and designed their shop, as if it was a mini Dutch wax pavilion 🌈🌈🌈 🇳🇬 @dulwichgallery @londonfestivalofarchitecture
#Hastings citizens queued up to go on Hastings pier.#DWP minister & Local MP Amber Rudd attended the protest with the owner @bheardmedia asked questions...https://t.co/R97wuJZX4Z@HastingsInPress@hastingsonline @guardian pic.twitter.com/iChi47lGEo — bheardmedia (@bheardmedia) January 12, 2019It’s unclear what will happen next. A spokesman for Gulzar told The Guardian that essential repairs are currently underway on Hastings Pier and it could reopen in mid-February. In recent months, Gulzar has complained about an increase in theft and vandalism as a cause for concern, and repeatedly expressed his commitment to keeping the pier safe. On January 12, he met with local residents and the city council to discuss support in speeding up construction projects on site in order to ensure an earlier opening date.
In 2014, Sean Griffiths exhibited My Dreams of Levitation at RoomArtSpace in London. His first piece since the closure of architecture practice FAT, the installation inhabited a series of first floor rooms of a Georgian house and saw wooden copies of the existing skirting boards and architraves displaced and hanging from the ceiling. My Dreams of Levitation forced visitors to duck and weave, taking unexpected journeys through the otherwise empty space. It also reflected moving property boundaries in the capital. Ultimately, though, the exhibition was Griffiths first foray into exploring the minimum requirement to make architecture.
This journey, perhaps, might be what Tim Ingold defines as a “line.” To the British anthropologist, life is not lived in places, but along paths.
“By habitation I do not mean taking one’s place in a world that has been prepared in advance for the populations that arrive to reside there,” he argues in his book, Lines: a Brief History. “The inhabitant is rather one who participates from within in the very process of the world’s continual coming into being and who, in laying a trail of life, contributes to its weave and texture.”
Furthermore, Ingold eschews the “pervasive metaphor” of building blocks—for life, thought, and the universe—instead adopting notions of weaving, threading, twisting and knotting, a theory Gottfried Semper was also on board with. And like Semper (who drew from Marc-Antoine Laugier), Griffiths too has his eyes set on architectural reduction.
In his latest exhibit, Griffiths continues this exploration. Entering Tontine Street in Southeast England by walking from Folkestone Central railway station, it’s easy to miss Levitation I, a 3-D cube painted on the façade of HOP Projects’ gallery. The narrow pavement means you really have to crane your neck to see the distorted cube, which is best viewed from an island in the middle of a junction not meant for pedestrians. Other than that, you can see it across the street, but this results in an arduous journey to get back to the gallery itself.
Colored three shades of green to indicate light and shadow, Levitation I conflicts with the building’s rudimentary window arrangement. It serves as a preamble for the even more incongruous Levitation II.
Deliberately disorientating, Levitation II inhabits the gallery space inside. The area in spatial terms, if you ignore the art, is by all means weird. This is the result of various forms of usage before Tomás Poblete and Nina Shen-Poblete of HOP Projects took over in July this year. It can only truly be understood in plan and section, but visitors do not have access to these drawings and so Griffiths’ laconic interventions continue to disrupt visitors’ perceptions.
On the floor is a grid made from pebbles from the nearby beach. The grid has been rotated so not to align with the room’s geometry, failing to run parallel with any walls and sending viewers equally off-kilter. The pebbles are loose and could easily be kicked, but the overriding instinct is to walk with trepidation and avoid disrupting the order, which is ironic given the spatial purpose. Evidently, others have thought the same. Despite the gallery being open and apparently unstaffed (I later found out they reside above) the pebbled grid appears untouched.
More lines can be found on the walls and ceiling, this time found in the form of colored masking tape. These, though, are not as connected. Inside the gallery they vary in thickness and in length, spanning the white surface in a warped perspective like the experience of looking up at Levitation I. As you move around inside, some lines match up and the shapes can be read as more traditional, orthogonal forms. Some perspectives require you to step outside the gallery altogether for this view to come into alignment. It can be a fun game to shuffle left and right to make this happen as you stand there with a camera, but expect some odd looks.
The game of illusory perspective has, admittedly, been done before. But in the context of the façade, the pebbles on the floor, and the bizarre gallery space itself, its effect is amplified. The real trick, however, is at a much finer scale. Up close, so close your nose almost touches the wall, the masking-taped lines are revealed to be curved. Again, this behavior may result in glances cast in your direction.
Does all of this manifest as an inhabitable drawing? Griffiths hopes so; he’s certainly on the right path.Levitation I + II HOP Projects 73 Tontine Street, Folkestone Through December 2
The Park Hill housing project in Sheffield, U.K. has suffered a turbulent, roller-coaster ride since its completion in 1961. Now a listed building—the largest protected building in Europe in fact—Park Hill has been subject to scorn and adoration from politicians, architects, artists, musicians and residents. Park Hill is currently being renovated by developers, Urban Splash, who this month, announced that the project will finally be completed by 2022.
In 1945, British architects Jack Lynn and Ivor Smith began designing Park Hill; they drew from on Le Corbusier's Unité d'Habitation and Peter and Alison Smithson's unbuilt 'streets in the sky' concepts. Upon completion, Park Hill had a warm reception, receiving praise from the likes of Reyner Banham along with positive articles in national newspapers such as The Telegraph, The Times and The Economist.
Writing for the Architectural Review in December, 1961, Banham said:
Park Hill seems to represent one of those rare occasions when the intention to create a certain kind of architecture happens to encounter a programme and a site that can hardly be dealt ‘with in any other way, and the result has the clarity that only arises when - as in the Villa Rotonda - aesthetic programme and functional opportunity meet and are instantly fused. But what Park Hill abundantly demonstrates is that there are other kinds of architectural clarity besides the Classical.
By the 1980s, however, the area had become notorious for attracting trouble. Flats had become rundown and Park Hill was synonymous with drugs and crime with this being down to a number of complex reasons including "poor management, deindustrialisation and better council housing stock in other areas of the city." Sheffield City Council then decided to award the estate—as public housing projects are known in the U.K.—protective Grade II Listing status in 1997. The move proved controversial among locals and the general public alike.
Four years later, a bridge within the complex was infamously vandalized by a man only known as Jason (not this author.) His painted message of "I LOVE YOU WILL U MARRY ME,"* scrawled in white and visible for miles, stirred journalist Frances Byrnes to eulogize it as "love yelling at the top of its voice in an estate thought to be desolate." Upon first sight of the message in 2001, estate caretaker Grenville Squires remarked: "How are we going to get that off?" Squires never found a way. Unbeknown to Jason, his work was later showcased at the 2006 Venice Biennale. Now, the vandalism-cum-artwork has found permanency through British architecture firms Hawkins\Brown and Studio Egret West. They're working with Urban Splash to trace and illuminate the text with neon lighting.
Cut to today: Urban Splash said that, after agreeing on a timeline with city officials, their ongoing work on Park Hill is due for completion in 2022. The work will continue with the gutting of the concrete structure and with the installation of new apartments. "This is great news for us and for Sheffield, we can now fulfill our ambitions for the project," said Simon Gawthorpe, managing director of Urban Splash, who later added how the recession had caused delays to the project.
In 2013, work on Park Hill was one of six projects up for the RIBA Stirling Prize. Approximately 600 people now live and work in renovated Park Hill units and, by the project's conclusion, the it will contain 210 apartments and 330 student housing units. Also funding the scheme are the Sheffield City Council, Great Places Housing Group, and national conservancy group Heritage England.
Despite Park Hill's success, the Robin Hood Gardens estate in south east London has not enjoyed a similar fate. Designed by the Smithsons and built in 1972, the project saw the realization of the Smithson's streets in the sky project (on their own terms). The building, however, even after campaign work from Zaha Hadid and Richard Rogers, is due for demolition having been refused Listed status by Heritage England.
*For the record: Jason's then lover, Clare Middleton, said yes but the couple didn't marry, splitting a month later. More on the story can be found here.