Wednesday, 17 February 2010


This project is actually a conversion of an old jute factory in Dundee into part of a digital media park. Park, in this context, presumably referring to the car park.
I mention that it's a conversion so you understand that Keppie probably had many limits on what they could do, constraints that held them back from really fulfilling their ambitions for the project. The biggest constraint of all is their COMPLETE LACK OF ABILITY TO DRAW A SHAPE THAT ANYONE MIGHT LIKE.
Here's a closeup of the facade:
It's tricky to know exactly what they were going for with the big viridian panels (solar cells, I think) with their slopey, 1970s-album-cover forms and the equally bizarre lozenge shaped windows. I think they're going for a, you know, dynamic, media, digital, new media kind of thing, which, to Keppie, means some sloping bits.
It's just fucking undignified. Like a middle-aged person trying to rap.
I think what finally does it is the combination of these pretentious, silly, cack-handed green gob-ons with totally standard glazing systems and the off-the-peg green glass canopy above the door, plus the business park standard parquet brick pathway (very new media) with spindly trees. Gesamtkunstwerk, this is not.
Keppie's view on the subject is hilarious. On their website, they say: "Exernally, the playful elevational treatment is in tune with the world of computer games." Maybe, if you haven't played a computer game since 1979. In fact, there is no computer game in the world today that has as low design values as this building, and certainly not a single one that uses a more horrible typeface than the inept 'Vision' sign above the door.
Vision@Seabraes was designed by a bald man who is 'an ex-shinty player and drives a Skoda.' [Note: they've changed their website and this quote is no longer there - but it's true... GoN]
Dundee has loads of shit new architecture in it, which I'm indebted to a correspondent for bringing to my attention - I'll get to more of it...

Saturday, 13 February 2010


Wow, check out this bad boy. The supercar in the foreground (how many supercar owners shop at Tesco? In Ipswich?) tells you everything about the fantasy world that Mountford Pigott were living in when they designed this one. I'll cut to the chase. Only a man with a very small penis could design this building.
Quite where all the shopping is in this incredible monstrosity is a bit of a mystery to me. But the dynamic roofs and the transparency and all that other jazz must have really got them going around the boardroom table. Perhaps the clients had small penises too.
A proper journalist (here) has written before about how bad Tesco is at doing buildings, and in that story, he quoted the head of CABE as saying: "From an aesthetic point of view, there is a lot of snobbery surrounding Tesco. In fact, the company works with some highly respected architects." Don't know about you, but I'm really looking forward to CABE under Mr Finch leading us into a brave new future for architecture in this country.
The above building is a planning application, and is pending a decision. Check it out here if you want to make a comment.
But because democracy is not really what we're all about here at BBA, I instead urge you to check out Mountford Pigott's website, navigate to the retail section, and belly laugh with all your work colleagues about how fucking proud they are of the incompetent approximation of architecture that earns them their daily bread.

With many thanks to a correspondent for this...


This is the image that Race Cottam presumably paid someone to create of the hideous new special needs school they have designed in Keighley. They had to pay for an image with dramatic sky and jolly looking children jumping up and down, because their own drawings look like this:
I suppose this image really shows how the strange bike-shed structures help the school relate to the landscape/car park that forms the compelling context that Race Cottam created for itself.
I also think that orangey brown and blue stripes speak to all of us so clearly of contemporary civic identity and our optimism about British education. They also have yellow and green stripes in some of the internal courtyards. Niiice.
I'd be interested to know how Race Cottam came up with the plan for this school. I'm guessing that the design process involved a late night game of Mikado or something. Anyway, Kalzip will be happy.
Race Cottam are one of those practices, that seem to appear a lot on BBA (this one, for instance), who get prizes from Building magazine for being a good employer. They're almost always bad architects aren't they?