Tuesday, June 02, 2009

One Humber Quays

click photo to enlarge
What is it about Prince Charles that leads him to comment on architecture? Sure, he spends a large amount of his time living in notable examples of the architect's craft, and much of the rest of his days involves visiting important buildings or staying in them. But as a qualification for pontification of the sort that he engages in that's the equivalent of everyone being an expert on education because they once went to school! Our present heir to the throne has clearly been too influenced by his ancestor, Victoria's consort, Prince Albert, and feels that he's got the duty (and right) to influence the built environment of Britain.

Now you might think that someone like me who approves of quite a bit of modern architecture, who much prefers to see buildings of our time being erected rather than pastiches of the past, would obviously disapprove of someone who could come up with a venture like Poundbury. But even if Prince Charles were such that he saw Quinlan Terry as a baleful influence, and agitated for the "Glass Shard" to be built in London, I'd still prefer him to spend his days slaughtering pheasants and cutting ribbons. Fortunately, however, his influence on architectural development is limited, and most practitioners and professional bodies seem treat him with polite disdain.

The other day I visited the rather grandly named "Humber Quays" in Kingston upon Hull. I say "grandly named" because the business sector consists of two office blocks, a desert of paving and a few spindly trees. However, mighty oaks from acorns grow, and I'm sure the city will extend this development in the coming years. Of the two structures that have gone up, this one caught my eye. It's a fairly mainstream building that quotes from the history of twentieth century Modernism - Le Corbusier would recognise the pilotis, Mies Van der Rohe the graphic surface grid, and Walter Gropius the glass curtain walls. It is, of course, embellished by the currently favoured sun-shade slats to reduce solar gain. It's not a building that shouts "innovation", but it is quite an elegant, even classical, construction - the sort that Prince Charles would doubtless deplore.

In the UK I don't often find myself photographing modern architecture under a clear blue sky, so the opportunity to do so, and thereby emphasise the sharp, angular, graphic qualities of this building, was not to be missed.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 14mm (28mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/800 seconds
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On