Saturday, November 14, 2015

New among the old, Lisbon

click photo to enlarge
Looking out recently across the rooftops of an old part of Lisbon, from a vantage on the Castelo de Sao Jorge, I reflected on the old, the new "old" and the new that was laid out before me. The tightly packed streets were hundreds of years old as were many of the houses that were still inhabited. Stone, render and tiles (called in England "Roman" style) were the main materials on display. A lot of money and effort had gone into keeping the buildings in good repair, and the owners, like owners across Europe, had adopted one of three approaches to their restoration work.

Some had used old materials (where possible) and kept the building looking as it had done for a long time i.e. they ensured it was and looked old. Others had used obviously new materials but the extensions and refurbishments were in the style of the old buildings of the locality: they were new "old". But one owner had decided that a new style would be used for a new extension and had built something determinedly modern. When I saw it I thought, "Well done!". I have no objection to conserving old areas, but I think there are places where a sympathetic new building can complement old buildings and offer insight and interest. I also think there is sometimes a place for a new building among old buildings, one that loudly proclaims itself and fits in with its surroundings in ways that are not always obvious.

The modest blue, yellow and red building does, I think, do the latter. Its colour and materials make it appear radically different from its surroundings, but everything else makes it sympathetic to the location - its size, openings, roof lines, even angles; as well as the fact that it is unseen to all except the immediate neighbours and viewers on the castle ramparts!

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Olympus E-M10
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 18mm (52mm - 104mm equiv.)
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/500 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.3EV
Image Stabilisation: On