Quinlan Terry says that the highest praise for one of his buildings is to say that “it looks like it has always been there”.
Further to the Hammersmith Society awards which I wrote about yesterday I reflected that modernist buildings are more likely to win prizes because they stand out – even if it like sore thumbs.
Here are a couple of examples – which did not win prizes but understandably caught the Society’s attention.
First of all 23 Keith Grove, off Uxbridge Road.
Tom Ryland, the Society’s Chairman said:
“This is a rather intriguing new house built on an end of terrace derelict site – Not many of them around to provide a Grand Designs type experience.
I understand that the house has featured on C4’s George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces and it won a NLA Award.
Obviously the major feature is the huge picture window which reflects the street, the sky and the trees: We are not quite sure what the effect is inside – Is it like a big two way mirror?
The other rather charming feature is the front door where you actually enter through the number 23.
Overall the Committee had mixed views on this scheme – and interestingly it was some of the architect members who most disliked it.
The architects of the scheme were MATT Architecture.”
Then there was The Nook, St Stephen’s Avenue, Mr Ryland said:
“This is a rather intriguing infill scheme at the Uxbridge Road end of St Stephen’s Avenue.
What you see on the street is rather deceptive as it is part of quite a large backland scheme at the rear of this building.
The block is an interesting and polite design solution to the street and not trying to emulate the Victoriana on either side by providing a simple brick box elevation.
We actually thought it could have been a storey higher!
Architects (and owners?) for scheme were Henning Stummel Architects.”
Polite? Hmmm. The great thing, I suppose, about not even “trying to emulate Victoriana” is that there is no risk of your attempt to do so failing. Much easier to indulge in the attention seeking “innovative” option and then you might win a prize – even if you ruin the appearance of the street.
You need to be careful. Architecture is like cutting-edge modern drama, the more people who complain the more the practitioners feel that it “validates” their artistic genius (and the supidity of the public). These efforts look piss-poor, it is amusing one is praised as being like a “Grand Design”, a TV show that lauds boring white-box ultra-orthodoxy above anything truly novel or innovative.