Nuart Aberdeen, 2017

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Paste-ups by Julien de Casabianca, East Green, Aberdeen

So the inaugural Nuart Street Art Festival in Aberdeen has been and gone. However it has left-behind a legacy of captivating images on the walls and doors around the city centre.

Whilst the event was short-lived (14-16 April 2017), the organisers managed to pack-in a number of excellent interactive events such as tours, talks and even a film premier.

I’m sure that the event was a resounding success, and so I hope that it will return again in the future.

To see a selection of my favourite images from the weekend please click here.

South London

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Stunning Views from the London Eye

This shot was taken from the London Eye in October 2014 during a family visit to the city. Looking south east, and off-centre sits the Park Plaza County Hall Hotel with its chequerboard-like façade. To the right hand side of this in the Reuleaux triangle-shaped building, is its sister: the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel.

The railway tracks to the rear of the hotels lead to the left hand side of the image and Waterloo Station.

In the distance to the left of centre, the tall structure intersecting the horizon is the Strata SE1 Building at Elephant and Castle in Southwark. It is also known as the Razor or Electric Razor on account of its distinctive shape, and in particular the sloping upper portion.

The foreground contains the distinctive tenement buildings of Belvedere Road and Chicheley Street.

The weather that day was mild for the season, and despite the cloud cover in the image, the sky was fairly clear in all other directions. We could see spectacular views far-into the distance and I think that it was the 360 degree view of the city that instantly cured my dislike of heights!

I fell in love with London the moment I arrived, and although we were only there for a few short days, we managed to pack-in a great deal of sight-seeing. I would dearly like to capture some more views of the city from the sky though, and look forward to going back soon…

Bridge of Dee, Aberdeen

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Ribbed Arches

The Bridge of Dee is situated towards the south end of the city at the terminus of South Anderson Drive, and despite other additions to the city’s infrastructure, is still a major thoroughfare. It is however a major bottleneck for vehicles especially at peak times, as it only supports one lane of traffic in each direction.

The bridge, unsurprisingly, spans the river Dee, and comprises seven ribbed arches. Constructed of dressed stone, a number of coats of arms are still visible today.

The Bridge of Dee was originally constructed in 1520 with £20,000 of funds bequeathed by prominent Renaissance Bishop, William Elphinstone (1431-1514) who founded Kings College, and drove the restoration of St. Machar’s Cathedral, both of which are situated in Old Aberdeen.

During its lifetime, the bridge has been restored in 1721 and widened in 1841. The widening was coordinated by City Architect, John Smith (1781-1852), who had originally proposed to build a new bridge, however the city council of the time declined.

Until 1832, the bridge was the only access to the city from the south. Plans are afoot to create a new Dee crossing so as to remove the bottleneck at this ancient structure, however, nothing has so far been crystallised.

When the water level in the river permits, it is possible to walk under the first arch through to the other side, as part of a much longer riverside walk along the Dee.

The image shows three of the ribbed arches from the south-side of the structure.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Aberdeen

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Mid-century Modern?

Situated at the busy intersection of North Anderson Drive and Lang Stracht (Long Straight), the church rests upon one of the high points within the city, and has probably been passed by most people who have visited the city on account of the arterial nature of Anderson Drive.

The building was constructed and dedicated in the 1960s and was the first purpose-built LDS church in Aberdeen. The walls are of red brick, regularly punctuated with white windows. The pitched roof was tiled in the 1990s; prior to this it was constructed of copper.

I understand that the church was designed in Salt Lake City. Given the period, this would explain the mid-century modern feel to the exterior.

The building is somewhat hidden behind a larger residential building to the south, and some trees to the north, and so it would be easily missed upon approach were it not for the tall spire.

The spire, which slices-through the large front porch, ensures that the building is clearly identified as a place of worship. A moderately-sized plaque on the front wall is all that indicates that this is an LDS church.

I have been fascinated by this building for many years: since I was a child in fact. I particularly relish the colour palette and textures of the building within its surroundings: the green, red, blue and white, the brick, concrete and stone.

William Krisel’s Palm Springs

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Corrine Krisel and Twin Palms tract house (1957). Photograph by Julius Schulman. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10). Copyright J. Paul Getty Trust.

I recently bought this book as I was already a fan of Midcentury Modern design, and of the photographer, Darren Bradley, who contributed many fantastic images to the publication.

I admit that, prior to reading, I was unfamiliar with the life and works of the prolific architect and landscape designer William Krisel, on whom the book is based.

Krisel’s professional career has extended from the 1950s onwards and during that time it is estimated that he has designed more than 30,000 homes in Southern California including Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley.

Part of Krisel’s genius, in my opinion, is that he has been able to take relatively similar designs and modify them in such a way as to make neighbouring homes appear unique through the use of different roofing styles, colour schemes, landscapes and building orientations. This is particularly significant given that Krisel’s focus was mainly on so called “tract” homes built on estates.

Prior to Krisel, such estates would have been created with “cookie-cutter” homes: rows upon rows of the same repetitive and monotonous buildings. Krisel broke that mould. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Sandpiper estate of Palm Desert. These homes were arranged in a circle around a central pool area. Very communal. However each of the properties was still able to retain its own privacy.

Modernism is a philosophy that creates a better way of living through design. It improves one’s appreciation of design and ecology.

– William Krisel

The images throughout the book are provided by a number of photographers. In particular I’m drawn to the “old” versus the “new” images of Southern California.

The historical images were mostly created by, the now late, Julius Shulman. Many of the modern images were provided by the equally talented Darren Bradley. Whilst the Shulman images mainly capture the scenes in his signature black and white style, Bradley’s are bright, vivid and beautifully contrasted.

William Krisel’s Palm Springs – The Language of Modernism was edited by Chris Menrad and Heidi Creighton, both enthusiastic followers of Modernism. Other individuals have contributed photographs, chapters, anecdotes and interviews to the book which ultimately provides a wonderful insight into the life of this pioneer, who is truly under-appreciated outwith Southern California.

ISBN Number: 978-1-4236-4232-9

Published date: 2016