Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The "guess the building" game

click photo to enlarge
"Guess the building's purpose" is a pretty old game dating back centuries. The eighteenth century landowner, usually a God-fearing Anglican, liked nothing better than to decorate his grounds with a Greek temple or rotunda embellished with pagan deities, the purpose of which was to add an "eye-catcher" to the view and provide a spot for a picnic after a short stroll. Then there were the "follies", Gothic or Classical, often built in a ruinous state, that added a visual note of melancholy to a vista. Victorian cotton mills were sometimes designed in the "Moorish" style, complete with polychrome brickwork and chimneys built to look like minarets. Or what about the Dock Tower (1851-2) that held the water that operated the hydaulics to open the dock gates at Grimsby? It is inspired by Siena Town Hall!

The game carries on today, with art galleries that look like industrial buildings, houses that appear to be shipping containers, and information kiosks that look like something that has descended from space. On a recent walk through Bermondsey in London I came across another such building. Its outer skin consisted of metal triangles that were fully applied lower down but partly missing above. Behind this could be seen a framework of wood. And at one end were some wooden doors. My first guess was a public lavatory, but I rejected that because there was no sign. Then, since it was near a small market square, I thought it must be the building where the traders' stalls were stored. The "modern" look, I conjectured, must be to harmonise with the ultra-modern flats that towered over the square - a sop to the people who could afford these desirable residences. And with that being my final thought, I went on my way.

Later, when I searched the net to find out what it was I discovered that it is a bicycle store - garage if you will - and my guess had been very wide of the mark. How well it serves its purpose I don't know, but it made an interesting subject for the camera, particularly with the temporarily dismounted motorcyclists whiling away a few moments, standing at one end of it.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 27mm
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/60
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On