18 April 2008

A century of architecture

The Kingston upon Thames Society's latest talk was on The Architecture of the Last Hundred years and was given by George Perkin MBE, a local architect and long-time editor of an architecture magazine.

The talk was a cascade of images from the last hundred years that George Perkin added his knowledgeable insights to. He also added his own views which seemed to coincide with most of the audience, which is perhaps not too surprising when most of them were also late middle-aged and/or architects. I agreed to a lesser extent but not enough to make the talk annoying.

We agreed that buildings like the Sydney Opera House, Centre Point and the Stockwell Bus Garage are worthy additions to the physical environment but he likes the Royal Opera House, Richmond Riverside and Victorian architecture, I don't as a rule, and he does not like Lloyds of London or the original building that is now the Atheneum Hotel in Picaddilly, both of which I think are magnificent.

Most of the talk was about the appearance of building and little was said about the internal
function which, obviously, drives the form so I felt at time that we were only getting half of the story. The other mystery, not a new one, was why some blocks of flats work and others proved to be so disastrous that they had to be pulled down just a few decades after being built.

Architecture is a subjective matter so it is no surprise that a talk like this will provoke some disagreements and that does not detract from a marvellous talk like this one was.

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