Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Engine Shed, Lincoln

click photo to enlarge
When the Royal Institute of British Architects announced that The Engine Shed, a concert hall and cafe built on the site of a former railway engine shed in Lincoln, was one of its RIBA EM Award Winners of 2007, it must have been on the basis of a professional appraisal of the structure compared with other buildings erected that year. The assessors undoubtedly looked at the interior and exterior, judged its fitness for purpose, considered how the old and new have been combined, and reflected on its contribution to its location. I can't comment on the quality of their decision as far as the building as a whole goes - it may be a model of utility and a sensitive conversion internally - but I've never been inside so I don't know. However, as far as the exterior goes, and the contribution it makes to its location, all I can say is, "What were they thinking of!"

Before I summarise my concerns let's start with what I like. The black and red are a good combination, a slab of bright colour against a dark glossy background. It could work, but not, in my judgement, when the red comes in such an ungainly shape against the relatively elegant glass curtain wall: it looks too much like a vandalised post-box. Furthermore, as a balcony it appears to be on the wrong elevation, because it looks over a narrow waterway to a very busy, noisy road. Then there's the way it sits alongside the other buildings adjacent to the Brayford Pool. The best you could say is that it is one of an eclectic collection because, by and large, each building ignores those around it. I recently posted a shot of the neighbour of The Engine Shed, and I defy anyone to say that they look comfortable bed-fellows.

My apprehensions about the treatment of Lincoln's Brayford Pool have deepened with each visit. I recently came across this article that also expresses concerns about what is being lost through the nature and scale of the waterside developments. Perhaps the economic downturn will ameliorate the further damage that will be inflicted, but I fear that it's probably too late to make this interesting space what it could have been.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Photo 1 (Photo 2)
Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 14mm (28mm/35mm equiv.) (11mm (22mm/35mm equiv.))
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/400 (1/640)
ISO: 100 (100)
Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV (-1.3EV)
Image Stabilisation: On