Anti-Ugly: Excursions in English Architecture and Design by Gavin Stamp

By Gavin Stamp

On the grounds that 2004 Gavin Stamp, one in all Britain's most outstanding and readable architectural historians, has written a per 30 days column for Apollo, the esteemed structure and superb paintings journal. the topic is just no matter what in layout or structure occurs to take his fancy. it would be the sumptuous reopening of the awesome Midland Grand resort at St Pancras Station, or the dilapidation of a little-known church in Eastbourne, the much-lamented dying of the unique Routemaster bus, or the monstrous majesty of the airship sheds that housed the R.101.

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The imminent, scandalous fate of the Guinness Brewery is symbolic of the general decline of Western Avenue. What was, in the 1930s, one of the largest and most important industrial areas in Britain was seriously depressed by the 1980s, threatening many of the buildings despite the growing appreciation of inter-war architecture. At least the Hoover Factory has secured a new life as a Tesco supermarket, unlike the poor old Firestone Factory, which was demolished by its owners, Trafalgar House, over a bank-holiday weekend in 1980 in anticipation of listing.

Another bedroom had a glass ceiling like the night sky, with the heavenly bodies in the positions they were at the moment of his birth. 26 Anti-Ugly The interior of Monkton was enchanting, weird, extraordinary, eccentric, highly original and decidedly surreal. The effect of the wall treatments and the Surrealist objects – including Dali’s ‘Arm’ chair, champagne cup lamps and lobster telephones – and was enhanced by the presence of unusual and witty pieces of real Regency furniture and such things as the carpet woven with the footprints of James’s dog (which superseded a design bearing the footprints of beautiful, ghastly Tilly Losh, the ballerina he had scandalously divorced) as well as by the works of art on the wall.

This degradation is visual, but it is also material. If, as we surely all must, we worry about climate change, then the encouragement of more road traffic and the destruction of existing masonry structures Guinness isn’t Good for You 33 – potentially useful masses of embodied energy whether or not of architectural merit – is irresponsible and wrong in principle. Surely politicians and bureaucrats should learn to think more holistically, more intelligently? As for me, I will lament the fact that, in future, my Guinness will not emanate from those magnificent brick blocks at Park Royal but will have to be imported from Dublin – thus wasting more energy as well as wasting those millions of special 2 3/8 inch Wellington facing bricks separated by 5⁄8 inch flush joints of carefully tinted mortar.

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