Saturday, 30 August 2014

The Park Tower Knightsbridge: Corn-on-the-Cob

While at the Royal Geographical Society this week, I went for a stroll over to Knightsbridge and discovered another one of Richard Siefert’s buildings: The Park Tower (1973). Originally the Sheraton Park Tower (and previously the Skyline Park Tower Hotel) it is compared to Elmbank Gardens in Glasgow (according to Wikipedia), but how they could not compare it to One Kemble Street in Holborn is a serious oversight.

Park Tower was renovated in 2013 and the Hyde Park Penthouse Suite sells at £7,200/night in this brutalist hotel. You pay extra for your own butler. The cheapest room I could find was £319.
Centre Point is often considered to be Seifert’s most famous building, but it’s Tower 42 that’s actually my favourite London building. A few of his buildings have been demolished in recent times, Wembley Conference Centre, for instance.

On it describes The Park Tower thus:
The building consists of a 15-storey rotunda housing 300 bedrooms, on a two-storey podium containing bars, a lobby and reception areas. The tower is formed of a reinforced-concrete service core, around which rooms are massed on a frame supported by pilotis at podium level. The most distinctive feature of the Park Tower is the façade treatment of the rotunda. Likened by Charles Jencks to corn-on-the-cob, each of the twenty rooms per floor, is articulated by a projecting bay window and clad in ochre mosaic. This gives the building an extremely tactile surface, while the rhythm of the windows goes some way to alleviating the bulk and emphasizing the vertical. This cellular façade treatment was a particularly Seifert architectural device and many of his buildings share this motif.

Relates blogs:
Negotiating Brutalist Space at the University of Leeds
Brutalist Access Points and Disappeared Stationers

Thursday, 14 August 2014

‘Lose Yourself in Melbourne’

The Psychogeography of Urban Architecture by David Prescott-Steed

I’ve recently read the above book by sound artist and urban explorer David Prescott-Steed (Academy of Design, Melbourne). It has the informal writing style of psychogeographical texts that originate from creative writing rather than academia, which I really liked.

I especially enjoyed the introduction, which is rather more a wander through Melbourne than an actual introduction to the book, but the better for it. I’m going to include one paragraph of the introduction which mentions an advert for the city of Melbourne and include the link to the film itself
Lose Yourself in Melbourne.

“While the endless movement of the city shows it to be a place of many motivations and meanings, the Lose Yourself in Melbourne advertisement asks the viewer forget about all of these familiar patterns with which they might experience the city, such as where they involve our engagement in shopping or working. It invites the viewer, you and me, to let down our guard; to loosen up by letting go of preconceived, city-based goals. It wants us to sweep aside all of these conceivably routine or boring things. It invites us, instead, to simply ‘make it all up’ as we go along. When I first saw this advertisement, it was if it was asking: ‘Why get so consumed in all of the routine? The city is your built environment, of course. But why not use it for playing in? Why not embrace your opportunity to improvise everyday life? Quite literally, this is a chance to think on your feet. Take the shops, offices and street, and turn them into your playground.’”

The book is published by BrownWalker Press (2013)

Related Links:
Walking Inside Out: Contemporary British Psychogeography
How We Used to Live – A Psychogeography of Your London