I’ve always had a love hate relationship with the brutal concrete 60’s architecture that either blights or benefits (depending on your point of view) the London skyline. So over the last 12 months with camera in hand (and occasionally puzzled daughter) I’ve been seeking out and discovering many of these buildings and seeing how their form and emotion can be represented on film.
First port of call was Trellick Tower, most visible from the Westway motorway and just off the Portobello Road near Notting Hill. Designed by Erno Goldfinger (whose name was taken by Ian Flaming for his eponymous bond villain) it was completed in the 70s. Trellick Tower is an astonishing concentrated concrete living space in the sky whose homes open outwards for all of London to see. The iconic shot here is the zoomed in front view of all the balconied box dwellings fed by the walkways from the detached lift shaft.
It’s hard to know whether to present this building in colour or black and white. The bleakness of the stairs seem to suit B&W – whereas a saturated view of the balconies gives a more idyllic view of the living space. I’ve also tried the more 70’s style photo processing reflecting the age of the building.
The large graffiti wall in the public are at the base of the building contrasts the grey concrete of the tower above.
Some of the most interesting shots are of the rather bleak concrete details around the building such as the stairs, doorways and walkways which really define the day to day living environment at street level.
If Bow is bit to far out – the Barbican Complex is a good destination, just north of St Paul’s Cathedral on the edge of the City it is a large concrete development of high rise flats, offices and a large theatre and art centre.
The South Bank is also a must see destination for brutal architecture (as well as the starting point for lots of other places of interest). On the banks of the River Thames it is home to the National Theatre and other art centres including the Hayward Gallery.