Tuesday, 24 March 2009


This might look like the usual crap to you: piss-coloured render and a characterless window system with some white supercalamodernistic projecting balconies and profiled zinc that's supposed to make us believe this isn't really a six-storey building hard up against the canal (the zinc's a roof, you see...). But this one is emblematic of a wider malaise.
There are lots of shocking things about British housing in the first decade of the 21st century: the shoddy materials, the inappropriate density, single-aspect flats, and the multiples required to make a profit driving awful, lumpen urban forms. But another shocking thing is how we are sold a vision, that can then be watered down (after planning) by an utterly cynical developer until it is nothing like what we imagined it would be. Below is PKS Architects' first attempt at this scheme, in a form that was exhibited at the New London Architecture Gallery.
This is a poor quality image, and despite this still terribly clumsy and obviously oversized proposal, at least it was painted white (a bit like the warehouses further along the canal), and there's the suggestion of timber on the projecting sections. Ther emight even be some public space implied along the canal front. What it turned out as, you can see at the top.
Actually, none of that really makes any difference, really. It's still absolutely awful in a anaesthetised, run-of-the-mill kind of way. This dull, stupid building will now afflict the canal until after we're all dead. Thanks PKS and Barratt.


  1. I hate that horrible faux-Barragan coloured render you get everywhere. Within five years it always looks as rotten as the worst concrete that it's supposed to be a more palatable option than...

    Also, I like having a picture of the visualisation compared to the finished product. Somebody should do more of that, preferably from the same locations, exposing the subtle distortion and outright lies (esp. the fact that there's always hundreds of people in a render and they're always smiling their faces off...).

  2. You're absolutely right. I like the idea of holding the visualisations to account - these fuckers think they can get away with selling us an image and building a cheaper-looking version of it. La lutte continue!

  3. While I'm not really disagreeing (and the point about visualizations is spot on), I think the raters are right: this one is merely normal bad, not an assault on all that is good and proper, like the renewable house or the playground. Which I suppose shows that it takes a certain amount of talent not just to rise above mediocrity, but to sink below it as well.

  4. I'm hating that yellow render, and worryingly I'm seeing it all the time at the moment. It's kind of like the new (cheaper) timber cladding. To me, it's less piss and more like an aged smokers fingernails colour...

    Great blog, by the way!

  5. I actually like the nicotine colour with the matt, very dark windows...at the side of a canal - seems appropriate although the detailing generally looks suspect, particularly around the prison reminiscent balconied mid section

    The zinc roof and overall massing seem okay - don't see a problem with this kind of scale canal side...

  6. I think this is a fine piece of Modern architecture, reminiscent of Corb's residential work.