Showing posts with label english. Show all posts
Showing posts with label english. Show all posts

Friday, December 29, 2006


Here's an English residential street (above) done in the brutalist style. The houses are probably cozy enough inside but outside they present an intimidating row of clunky slabs which seem to menace passers-by.

The houses also seem oddly out-of-sync with the hilly terrain. Hills are usually friendly and inviting. You want to climb them so you can take in the view and the sweep of the sky. Here the hill has been taken over by big, dark cubes which conspire to block the sunlight and the view of the lowlands.

Here's another English street (above) built on an old continental model. The architecture may be foreign but it works and I can't for the life of me understand why the English are so reluctant to import good visual ideas from their neighbors.

Here's the brutalist style again (above), this time in America. This building is a terrain hog which probably throws all the smaller buildings around it out of scale. The building almost certainly is OK inside. Outside it's a big, sentimental, selfish Baby Huey of a slab, solicitous of its own workers and indifferent to everyone else.

I thought I'd end on a positive note. Here's a typical cluster of chain stores and gas stations that you find in American hollows where major routes intersect. I want to dislike it but I can't. It's a whore but it's an honest whore. It's happily commercial. Here the weary traveler can find coffee and a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich served by a cheerful local waitress. Here are liquor stores full of lottery tickets, tobacco, dirty magazines, candy, comics, beer and ice. Liquor stores are islands of sanity and if they ever disappear the world will be a sadder place.

BTW, notice the lack of garish signs and billboards. I've seen places that were actually enhanced by their signs but this little hollow does very well without them.