Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Brunswick Centre, 1972

From Nothing to See Here, a lovely little piece about the Brunswick Centre in Bloomsbury:

"The Brunswick finally opened in 1972 but the flawed execution doomed it to membership of an inauspicious club of similar buildings which all shared a love of concrete, as well as the knack of being distinctly unpopular. Other offenders included the Trellick Tower in west London, the Bull Ring in Birmingham and the Tricorn Centre in Portsmouth. These ambitious structures were collectively labelled as Brutalist architecture, a style which became synonymous with failed social projects. Decline was often hastened by government reluctance to supply adequate funding during the recessions of the 70s and 80s. Over the years the public association between brutalism and decay became entrenched and the buildings became a prime focus for Prince Charles’ carbuncle obsession. Yet, although often flawed, the modernist utopian vision which underpins the schemes is emblematic of a post war vision to engineer a better world. That their design still provides us with a powerful sense of the future so far in the past, perhaps says much about our contemporary desire and ability to build a better tomorrow."

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

The Girl Chewing Gum

This superb little documentary from 1976 not only depicts a fascinating slice of east End life but also raises some important questions about truth, fiction and representation in documentary film-making. Godardian in its ambitions, it uses the representation of a street corner in a Dalston neighbourhood to produce a hilarious montage of effects and questions. To begin with you might think that the narrator is adopting a Tati-esque micro-choreography but the perspective soon shifts...

Watch it for yourself and then you will see...

For a more thorough analysis of John Smith's work, see here.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Dan Hill on 1970s brutalist architecture, australia, tropicana and climate change

This post from the excellent blog CityofSound encapsulates precisely why we should be interested in the 1970s as a source of zeitgeist fuel in the early years of the 21st century.