Saturday, July 31, 2010

Unforeseen blemishes

click photo to enlarge
As we walked around Lincoln's Brayford Pool the other day we were discussing the unforeseen blemishes that frequently appear on new architecture.
The fashion of the last twenty years or so for patches of horizontal hardwood cladding on flats and offices has resulted in dark water stains on the timber. These are unsightly, entirely predictable, and often contrast strongly with the bleaching of the wood that also occurs after the original treatment has faded. Some of the buildings exhibited stains on the concrete where rain had flowed over a metal fixing, leaving a deposit below it. Then there was the building that had panels of stained and varnished wood that alternated with glass. The horizontal bands of the dark wood had light coloured, rather hazy looking patches all over them. At a distance we couldn't make out what they were. It was only when we got closer that we realised they were spiders' webs spun by the creatures that found the narrow grooves perfect for their homes and for erecting their places of entrapment. Then there was the Hayes Wharf Tower, one of the better buildings in this location. On a sunny day the louvres that punctuate the exterior throw sharp shadows on the surface. However, at the time we passed by the sky was bright but cloudy, and in those circumstances the shadows are soft edged and it looks like there are dirty stains behind the slats (see above).

It is clearly difficult for architects to predict some of these unintended consequences that appear on their buildings, but one does wonder whether such things are considered at all during their training. Moreover, with CAD (computer aided design) it isn't beyond the wit of man to model such things. Having said that, sometimes it is the unforeseen that is the one element elevating a building above the mundane, as with the stress effects on the glazing of this building at Canary Wharf, London (assuming the architect didn't intend it!)

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 40mm (80mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/320
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On