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Old December 6th, 2013, 06:18 PM   #21
surveyingsteve
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As i mentioned in my earlier post, my philosophy is restoring buildings which is are still standing, but not reconstructing former buildings from scratch basically. For example in Exeter High Street this row of Medieval building stand in the narrow section of the High Street that was largely unaffected by bombing or post war planning.

[IMG]image hosted on flickr
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They may not look much but they are actually some of the last remaining Tudor buildings on the High Street. Some of them have unfortunately suffered numerous alterations over the years. Here I would say restore the building to their former incarnations. The two properties to the right hand side used to be twin Tudor houses but only one of them is true to the original build. Here I would restore the end building to match it's neighbour and reinstate the gables on both buildings. Something like this:

[IMG]image hosted on flickr
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The three next buildings along the row I would suggest restoring these building simply by removing the parapet roofs and restoring the gables and reinstating the original windows. This I feel would enhance this part of the High Street immensley from an architecture point of view. Its not faking it but its just bringing them back to their true selfs.

A little bit along the High Street these two buildings are probably some of the most photographed by tourists but they are pretty much fake. The interiors were stripped out but the original facades were retained. Unfortunately the shopfronts were removed and an underpass was created. I would suggest restoring the original shopfronts and removing the underpass. Obviously the interiors can't be brought back but seeing as the facades are remaining then an effort should be made to present them to their full potential.

[IMG]image hosted on flickr
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A little bit further is another building which should be restored. This building annoys me so much. The roof burned down during the blitz but no effort was made to restore the double gabled roof and was simply replaced with a flat roof. It was such a lazy effort. Also the oriel windows on the top floor were not rebuilt and again the shopfront was removed and a underpass created.

[IMG]image hosted on flickr
[/IMG]

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Old December 10th, 2013, 04:23 PM   #22
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Totally agree with every word of this. Thats interesting that Coventry plucked historic buildings and re-built them elsewhere. Is there anywhere around the cathedral these buildings could perhaps be 're-built' again?
Sadly not really, in terms of currently empty, undeveloped sites. There is a ground level car park in Greyfriars Lane that would be suitable for two or three buildings next to Fords Hospital, another medieval building, but other than that...

That's not to say there isn't plenty that IMO couldn't be removed to do such a plan. Lots of empty units that don't really add anything architecturally, although that is subjective of course.

Personally I favour a north-south route from the train station up towards the cathedral and motor museum and possibly even the canal basin (an idea I got the inspiration for from Birmingham's Brindley Place), as it would be more likely to attract the immediate interest of visitors as they enter the city and then lead them through the heart of the city towards its main visitor attractions and hopefully spread the potential for further redevelopment.

Others would prefer the old main east-west route recreated in place of the precinct, reconnecting Far Gosford St and Spon St with their older buildings. A fine idea but one that would probably have to be pointed out to visitors as I don't think it would be obviously apparent, and also once you reached the end they'd be nothing to do but turn back round and retrace your steps, which I always find a bit disappointing. It'd be quite a distance to walk too (although a taxi rank at the ends would probably do decent business)
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Old December 10th, 2013, 04:30 PM   #23
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While conservation efforts on existing buildings might have merits, it is hypocrite, fake and kitsch the idea of rebuilding from scratch old buildings that had been completely knocked down for decades as if they were old.

This is why Dresden is becoming the open-air Disney of the Elbe, complete with stucco buildings and fake old ornaments.

London doesn't need to go down that path.
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Old February 15th, 2015, 12:29 PM   #24
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I also live in Coventry, but I find the problem with the post war city is the terrible layout and the way the ring road has created dead end streets that struggle to find a use (Due to the lack of people on them) and the awful way everything seems to be inside out, with service areas facing roads and people expected to go into a series of fairly grim 'precincts' that remain empty past 5:30. The buildings are very much of the period (And haven't aged well in many cases, and do create a somewhat dreary townscape) but some of the later additions in recent years are an absolute disgrace. There are too many weird empty squares that have nothing round them. An expensive and prestigious development (Phoenix Initiative) just created more of the same mistakes and after a decade looks run down.

The blitz was pretty destructive, but the destruction that followed was even worse, with whole streets that survived being torn down and in many cases being left empty because they didn't know what to do with the sites. They never really planned much apart from the ring road and precinct, and never really knew what to do with the rest.

It's a total mess.
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Old February 15th, 2015, 04:51 PM   #25
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I think the reason is somewhat political. Many of the buildings lost were neo classical.

Some very sensitive council members over the last 59 years may associate the style with decadence, imperialism and elitism. Especially some of the more beautiful and spectacular buildings that were pulled down and replaced with brutalist structures.
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Old February 21st, 2015, 10:20 PM   #26
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http://marvmelb.blogspot.com.au/2012...ished.html?m=1

In Melbourne where I live it is similar. Many historic buildings have been demolished and replaced with poorly designed architecture. I believe what you posted about the political aspect is correct. While it is difficult to definitely prove this is the reason.
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Old February 21st, 2015, 10:25 PM   #27
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Quote:
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http://marvmelb.blogspot.com.au/2012...ished.html?m=1

In Melbourne where I live it is similar. Many historic buildings have been demolished and replaced with poorly designed architecture. I believe what you posted about the political aspect is correct. While it is difficult to definitely prove this is the reason.
Heartbreaking! Looks like it was a fantastic Victorian style city.

I always suspected that Coventry's council would never advocate any sort of 'reconstruction' (Although I think it would be difficult to reconstruct some of the ramshackle medieval aspects) as it would mean an admission that Labour's grand 'City of tomorrow' utopia failed and has left us with a 'fourth rate provincial city build on modernist lines.'
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Old February 21st, 2015, 10:36 PM   #28
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Melbourne still has a lot of good examples of historic architecture. But it is sad.
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Old February 21st, 2015, 10:39 PM   #29
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Super examples compteruser.
Should post some of those on the most moronic demolitions thread just below this one.
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Old February 22nd, 2015, 06:23 PM   #30
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Alot of buildings lost unfortunately as grand and beautiful as they were, weren't fit for purpose.

Also, Britain's population was so high a quick answer was needed to re house those after the war.

In the 50's, 60's housing was so imperative that it had to be constructed quickly and in high density. Over the years this dwindled and lower density housing estates were able to be developed.

Since the late 90's up to now we have seen hundreds of tower blocks demolished as they are no longer needed.

It was effectively a stop gap.

Britain itself has always been at the forefront of architecture and it's cities hold more types then they're compatriots elsewhere.

We love to build and we love to innovate.

We still crave our best structures and designs but we also know that we must evolve.

Yes it's led to some nasty buildings but it's also kept Britain as the worlds highest regarded construction industry.

British Contract docs, building regs and so on are adopted world wide.

When you have a population as big as the UK in such a small area, sacrifices have to be made and after World War 2, we had no option.
I personally don't buy the whole 'not fit for purpose' argument. It was just an easy way to dismiss criticism and plow ahead with the failed 60's development that now plague town and cities across Britain. Sure they may have needed work doing but so do most buildings after a certain number of years have passed. I remember reading recently, I think on the BBC, how it is now the traditional Victorian market halls that are thriving whilst those replaced with crappy modernist structures are now those that are virtually empty, yet it was the Victorian ones that we were told were not fit for purpose that now thrive - whilst the purpose built modernist ones rot. Mistakes are made, but the sad thing is that in this country we don't seem to ever learn from them.
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Old February 23rd, 2015, 06:26 AM   #31
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We're in the middle of a renovation boom in Europe unlike anything else since WWII.
That's good enough news for me.
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Old February 25th, 2015, 07:28 AM   #32
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The same reasons why most destroyed cities in France and Japan didn't rebuild as before. As world powers spared from the Iron Curtain, the destruction led to opportunities for introducing new (many of which failed) or never-implemented ideas to stay dominant. While London was being bombed, there was actually some consideration to implement Christopher Wren's plan at the end of the war. I guess that's a good thing it never happened because many more structures would have been destroyed than during the air raids, like the post-war Marzoni plan for Birmingham.

As for today, not much is being rebuilt because it's a developer-driven world. Specifically in London, developers would rather hire some head-up-his-own-ass starchitect instead of consulting English Heritage and the historical plans for a building of comparable size. As a result, London gets self-proclaimed "edgy" while in reality, quirky and playful blobs of shit with bizarre cladding, strange colors, and irregular window placement (basically most stuff in the London compilation thread), which are vastly inferior to the post-war buildings they replace. I pray it's a short-term trend that will die-out in the near future, with everything destroyed and replaced by innovative or lost architecture.

I suppose looking on the bright side, there's talk to rebuild the Crystal Palace. Also, post-war development in France is being replaced with Haussman-esque buildings, and Tokyo's central station was restored a few years ago to its pre-war appearance. World cities will never be like Dresden or Rotterdam concerning historic reconstruction, but rebuilding the greatest former assets can even be better than a supertall.
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Old February 27th, 2015, 03:55 PM   #33
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It's quite simple really. Because British society has always been commercially driven, i.e. money over aesthetics. This is a running theme in the history of British architecture at least since the industrial revolution, and continues today. That is why Britain is the home of value-engineered glass boxes and lego architecture developments.

I generally don't support the reconstruction of old architecture as it comes across as fake. Sure, some lost gems could be brought back, but when entire cities become mere reconstructions (such as in Germany and Poland) it gets really problematic. In this sense I'm glad that Britain is staying out of the reconstruction boom. What British cities should adopt is the 'continental' way of organizing and maintaining cities. Cities in Britain are generally more cluttered and the public realm poorer compared to cities in other parts of Europe.

The real tragedy of British urbanity is the insane destruction and suburbanization that occurred after WWII.
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Old March 10th, 2015, 04:17 PM   #34
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Seriously. If I had my way, I would personally remove legal obligations and force developers to demolish the ugly shopping centres and brutalist buildings, and rebuild what was there before/ something fitting to the city. I would also like to see city centre shopping centres demolished/ barred from development, and replaced with a historic/ natural street pattern, filled with appropriate, local-style architecture/ building materials. All city centre shopping centres are, are lazy excuses for city councils to not have to fund the development of a plot of land, so that a private company can do a cheap architectural bodge-job. The locally owned Businesses would help a local economy flourish, and attractive buildings they would be housed in would help to attract Business, and/or tourism.

The argument that Britain has "always been commercially driven" architecturally is just bullshit in my opinion. It's just the lazy excuse for architects who care nothing about history and heritage to spend less money on a city centre project. The Georgians/ Victorians/ Early 20th century managed it just fine. And those buildings, even 30s Art Deco, have stood the test of time. Why can't we manage it now?

And don't give me the usual excuse that "Brutalism is just another artistic/ architectural phase, worthy of preservation". Ok, if it was so good, why are those buildings in such bad repair/ so ugly?
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Old March 10th, 2015, 04:55 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
While conservation efforts on existing buildings might have merits, it is hypocrite, fake and kitsch the idea of rebuilding from scratch old buildings that had been completely knocked down for decades as if they were old.

This is why Dresden is becoming the open-air Disney of the Elbe, complete with stucco buildings and fake old ornaments.

London doesn't need to go down that path.
I find your position (which is shared by many) too purely intellectually founded, as if one has lost touch with the feeling of the matter. When it comes to architecture, as with other aesthetics, it is mostly good enough reason that someting is "nice". Ask yourself, would the world in any manner profit from it was Dresden not rebuild? In my view, positions like that you hold seem a little "elitist".

It is not the same to rebuild as to have an old city that was never destroyed. But rebuild in the original spot, with faithful reconstruction of exteriors as to the quality of craftmanship and materials, the Disney-world metaphore fails completely.
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Old March 10th, 2015, 05:11 PM   #36
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I find your position (which is shared by many) to purely intellectually founded. One may lose touch with the feeling of the matter. When it comes to architecture, as with other aesthetics, it is mostly good enough reason that someting is "nice". Ask yourself, would the world in any manner profit from it was Dresden not rebuild? In my view, thus, positions like that you hold seem a little "elitist".

It is not the same to rebuild as to have an old city that was never destroyed. But rebuild in the original spot, with faithful reconstruction of exteriors as to the quality of craftmanship and materials, the Disney-world metaphore fails completely.
Exactly. Rebuilding what was there before is not creating any sort of pastichey- "Disneyland". It is merely celebrating the city's history, and simply replacing what was lost. Perhaps it isn't wholly authentic, but would building an ugly tower block for the sake of it in the same place be?
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Old March 10th, 2015, 05:53 PM   #37
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Exactly. Rebuilding what was there before is not creating any sort of pastichey- "Disneyland". It is merely celebrating the city's history, and simply replacing what was lost.
You don't seem to be too fond of the history that occured after WWII. That era is as equal and valid as the history before the war. It's hypocritical to say you support the history of the city and then say they should demolish the brutalist buildings.

In Britain they are tearing down or completely altering countless post war buildings without a second thought. Even the good ones like the St. Helens Tower will be demolished. In my opinion that is no better than how they demolished or altered the buildings before them.

A true preservationist must also be empathetic towards future generations which will see the currently dated buildings as historic. The buildings of the recent past should be renovated in a way that is true to the architect's intentions. Otherwise there is no way to prevent repeating the demolition mistakes of the past.
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Old March 10th, 2015, 07:32 PM   #38
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You don't seem to be too fond of the history that occured after WWII. That era is as equal and valid as the history before the war. It's hypocritical to say you support the history of the city and then say they should demolish the brutalist buildings.

In Britain they are tearing down or completely altering countless post war buildings without a second thought. Even the good ones like the St. Helens Tower will be demolished. In my opinion that is no better than how they demolished or altered the buildings before them.

A true preservationist must also be empathetic towards future generations which will see the currently dated buildings as historic. The buildings of the recent past should be renovated in a way that is true to the architect's intentions. Otherwise there is no way to prevent repeating the demolition mistakes of the past.
I see it a little differently:

(a) many post war buildings are cheap, forced into existence on short notice within two decades of poverty by the need of housing after the war destructions.

(b) sometimes not only single buildings are worth preserving but urban habitats. If an old-town, as example, is punctuated with disharmonious modern elements, that is not the same as having those modern buildings in another area of the city.

(c) Iīm an aestheticist, not a preservationist in the sense of "documenting history". High quality buildings from all eras may be worth preserving, but not automatically. I would also not adsvocate preserving entire cities in a pre-war fashion, only the iconic or high quality parts of the city centers. Contemporary developments around historic cores are necessary and desirable.

(d) although subjective, one might argue that the handcraft base and building philosophy of many pre-modern styles have something exquisitely aesthetic about them. In fact, there were ages where aesthetics were prioritized alongside functionality in a different manner than presently the case. The people back then didnīt relativize aesthetics, even is some will insist that was their loss.
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Old March 11th, 2015, 03:34 PM   #39
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'British' identity (whatever that is) is less defined by historic buildings and more by innovation, experiment, fashion and novelty in architecture.

Conservation philosophy - when you see something that looks old, you can be assured that it is actually old - generally speaking. In some countries old buildings and new ones sometimes look the same and I think the old ones lose their value in that situation.

We do occasionally reconstruct - Holborn Viaduct stair building is a recent example. St Ethelberga's church in the city was reconstructed after an IRA blast. We, like European cities often rebuild to heal emotional scars. After the war Germany and Poland healed their scars by reconstruction - possibly an element of trying to collectively forget the war happened. In the UK we wanted to imagine a better future and forget the dirty, dingy bleak past and imagine a clean, healthy and bright new world... !
I donīt know what makes up british identity from an inside perspective, from the outside, Britain is not the same without an intact link to the past.

Architecturally, that has alot in common with northwestern europe generally, half-timbered and brick architecture. My own, more specific associations goes in the direction of monumental neu-gothic architecture and stone houses, both in cities and in in the countryside.

As a side-note: I donīt think germany reconstructs to forget the past, but to remember its whole past, not just 15-20 years of the 20th century.
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Old March 11th, 2015, 08:39 PM   #40
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You don't seem to be too fond of the history that occured after WWII. That era is as equal and valid as the history before the war. It's hypocritical to say you support the history of the city and then say they should demolish the brutalist buildings.

In Britain they are tearing down or completely altering countless post war buildings without a second thought. Even the good ones like the St. Helens Tower will be demolished. In my opinion that is no better than how they demolished or altered the buildings before them.

A true preservationist must also be empathetic towards future generations which will see the currently dated buildings as historic. The buildings of the recent past should be renovated in a way that is true to the architect's intentions. Otherwise there is no way to prevent repeating the demolition mistakes of the past.
I agree entirely. These brutalist monstrosities of which I'm no fan are now just as valid a part of an area's history as any time before it. The homogenised look is PART of what has occurred both architecturally and culturally with a more accessible, globalised world and reflects both the financial necessity post WWII and desire to be able to offer more services to those in need at the cost of aesthetic desirablity for those with more. It is a reminder of the past, and arguably keeping a few (including the odd tower block) is a better way of ensuring we don't make the same mistake again than tearing them all down

It is impossible to say what should and shouldn't be preserved on an aesthetic basis because that is entirely subjective. Is the call from one of the other posters above to force the tearing down of these shopping centres for what they consider to be architecturally desirable no different from the people who demanded they be allowed to tear down the old structures to build them?

Aren't a lot of the buildings from previous ages, Georgian especially, often heavily inspired by stuff from the continent anyway. And before that when international travel was nigh on impossible cues were taken from other towns/cities in this country and recreated in local materials? And if they are all rebuilt to reflect that history why would this help tourism? Everywhere would have that 'old' look. The average person probably wouldn't care about the old look, and those that did wouldn't be overly bothered because it wouldn't actually be old, and there would be so many places to choose from.

I agree with them that there is far too much in terms of what can be preserved and creates massive problems.

As time goes on a LOT of those buildings will be torn down because they haven't stood the test of time, and will be replaced
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