Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Architecture and colour

click photo to enlarge
There is a continuum between the architectural photograph that is a record of a building, and the photograph of a piece of architecture that simply uses the building as a subject from which to extract form, pattern, colour or some other aesthetic quality. At some point between these extremities is the photograph that tries to do both of these things. This is my most recent attempt at such a shot.

The building in question is on the promenade at Blackpool, Lancashire, and is a converted 1930s "solarium". It has been changed from its original purpose as a place for people to sit in bright, leafy surroundings on dull or wet days, to a centre that showcases and promotes sustainable technology. It is called the "Solaris Centre", and is designed to be a "zero energy building" that generates more energy than it uses. Two wind turbines provide 6Kw each, and 60 sq m of solar cells can add another 18Kw in favourable conditions. Rainwater is used for toilet flushing, and other technologies help to keep energy use to a minimum. Exhibitions, a cafe and conference facilities complete the building.

My photograph shows a small part of the back of the building - a new corridor and roof light - that overlooks a planted area. I composed the picture to show the architecture in its setting, and because of the interesting combination of colours and textures. The purple flowers provide a useful foil against which the glazed grid of the building can be shown. But, the shot would not have occurred to me without the rectangles of blue, the orange walls with the solar cell shadows, and the yellow of the warning sign all being attractively grouped together. As a photograph to represent the building it's not very good because it doesn't show the characteristic features that the public usually see. But as an image in itself, or as one of a group to illustrate the building, I think it has some merit. I present the shot as it came out of the camera, with the only adjustment being the correction of the slightly converging verticals.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen