I wrongly accused Ted Cullinan of having designed Shadwell Basin. I’ve discovered that it was designed by Richard MacCormac or one of his partners in an early, and good, example of docklands rebuilding from the first days of regeneration (it was completed in 1987), a slightly miscellaneous example of classical elements, with Venetian arches and split pediments, half replicating early nineteenth-century industrial buildings :-
As it was a sunny morning, we walked to Canary Wharf to see what had changed. The answer is that one only has to blink and another six, sleek office blocks have gone up. The original Cesar Pelli tower which used to be so dominant in the urban landscape is now itself dwarfed. Heron Quays, the original low-rise warehouses by Nick Lacey, have gone. Even Piers Gough’s Cascades, the original housing block on the river, is overwhelmed. The language of Chicagoan classicism has been entirely replaced by glass and steel.
This is Dundee Wharf, which looked unnecessarily manneredwhen it first went up, but has worn well:
I’ve been reading the new book about the work of Wilkinson Eyre, which has made me realise that not only are they responsible, which I knew, for the design of Arts Two at Queen Mary, which houses the history department, with its ceramic façade designed by Jacqui Poncelet, but also for the colourful polyhedral façade of the School of Mathematical Sciences. The screenprinted tiling is based on the ideas of Roger Penrose, a visiting professor, about repeatable and non-repeatable pattern:-
I was trying to remember the reference in W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz to the old Ashkenazi cemetery on Alderney Road – or Alderney Street as it is called in the novel. Jacques Austerlitz lived in the street ‘quite a long way out in the East End of London. It is a remarkably quiet street running parallel to the main road not far from the Mile End junction, where there are always traffic jams and, on such Saturdays, market traders set up their stalls of clothes’. Alderney Road is one of a group of streets of 1860s terrace housing tucked between Queen Mary and the railway tracks:-
The Ocean Estate has a bad name, but I’ve always liked the low-rise houses, which are well maintained, with a great deal of highly individualistic styling and have an atmosphere redolent of the homes for heroes of 50s Britain:-
I called in on Mile End Place on Christmas morning – one of those, curious, unexpected snickets of artisan housing, backing on to the Jewish cemetery, so with only trees beyond:-
This is to wish my followers a Happy Christmas, together with scenes from around the house in the last couple of days:
Cable Street was the heartland of the old east end, bombed in the war, the Tarling estate erected after it, but still with good early nineteenth-century houses in a row just north of the church.
This is the Tarling estate:-
I went to see the new building which Niall McLaughlin has put up in amongst some classic Peabody buildings just short of the Tower of London on John Fisher Street (previously Glasshouse Street). The original estate consists of nine buildings, each one labelled according to a letter of the alphabet, designed by H.A. Darbishire and built in 1880. Niall McLaughlin has added a thin, free-standing block, in appropriately austere pale brick, not aping the surroundings, but in sympathy with them:-
I spent the morning wandering round Whitechapel, so much more densely built than Stepney, still with its tight nineteenth-century street formation. I particularly admired the work that the Spitalfields Trust has done in regenerating the streets off New Road – Turner Street, Walden Street and Varden Street – where the small artisans’ houses have been spruced and gentrified:-