Thursday, 23 June 2011

Tim Jennings speaks on curse of social media at New London Architecture's 'London's Workplaces' event

Self-confessed "grumpy old man" Tim Jennings thrusts an embittered yet sharp riposte towards "social networking media evangelists" who tell him how many apps he can get for his smart-phone. "They're on a mission to make non-users feel inadequate," chides Jennings. "I don't even have a smart phone."
   Jennings, md of architecture and design firm, ttsp, passionately pleads for Londoners to "cherish and nurture the office" rather than let social networking media render our workplaces increasingly obsolete. "Yeah, the pros of social media are all snappy, cool and - 'whatever'. 
   "But, as a parent, I call them 'anti-social' media," says Jennings. "At their worst, they breed a shallow and bullying culture."
Jennings also worries about "a communications breakdown" if companies providing Wi-Fi access across  London suffer technological breakdown? "If the Cloud bursts, it's gonna piss down," warns Jennings. "Be careful what you wish for."
   Jennings wants a premium set on interpersonal relationships and skills rather than filling data centres with a "raft of electronic tittle tattle". Offices with motivated and energised people provide far more nuanced opinions and warm feelings than social networking media. 
   He wants our future held in the hands of creative, responsive and respectful people who know how to converse face-to-face. "So, let's cherish and nurture the office," says Jennings. "And not just treat the office as an exercise in selecting cool furniture and funky interiors."

Tim Jennings, managing director of ttsp, spoke at London's Workplaces: Remaining Competitive in a Changing World, a thought-provoking New London Architecture conference held on Wednesday, 22 June 2011, sponsored by Buro Four. NLA events take place at The Building Centre at 22 Store Street, WC1 and on location throughout London.
Click on images to enlarge. Photos: Copyright of Paul Coleman. No re-use without written permission.

Paul Coleman, London, June 2011.

Monday, 20 June 2011

The Shard: bigger by little, each day

Maybe one day, most Londoners won't even give the Shard a second glance. But, for now, Europe's tallest building grows difficult to ignore. 
   Architect Renzo Piano describes his creation as "a city in the sky". 
  Fellow architect Ptolemy Reid describes it "as more interesting in construction". 
Prince Charles dismissively slurs the Shard as an oversized salt cellar. 
   Personally, London's tall, slim Dalek is growing on me. The Shard contrasts starkly with every building in London, as the photos show. 
   However, I suspect the London panoramas offered from the tower might quickly generate more interest than the Shard itself.

Photos: Copyright of Paul Coleman. No re-use without permission.

Paul Coleman, London, June 2011

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Marconi House blaze on Strand and Aldwych

"The fire and smoke was incredible yet frightening," said Ivan. "They were turning back buses on Waterloo Bridge."
    Ivan watched the drama unfold as he served tea, coffee and cake from the garden cafĂ© on the roof of the South Bank's Queen Elizabeth Hall. He was talking about Tuesday's fire on the north side of the river which badly damaged the roof of Marconi House, a 10-storey building hosting a five-star hotel and luxury flats at the junction of the Strand and Aldwych. 
   Only one person suffered minor injury but it took 75 firefighters and 20 appliances to control the blaze. The photo shows fire inspectors trying to identify the cause of the fire.
   A single cloud of fire smoke billowing over 21st Century London is an eerie echo of just how terrified Londoners must have felt as they looked over their bombed and burning city during the blitz of World War II.

Photo: Copyright Paul Coleman. No re-use without permission.

Paul Coleman, London, June 2011

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

A Raincoat with a View

A woman wearing a fawn raincoat spoilt my great view of London from an airship...more on this coming later this week.

Photo: Copyright Paul Coleman, London, 2011. No authorised use without permission.

Paul Coleman, London, June 2011

Friday, 10 June 2011

London 2012 Olympic Games: Olympic Park, Stratford - the view from Hackney Wick

My train is stuck in the station under a snotty hankerchief sky. Trains are backed up between Hackney Wick and Stratford at the congested end of the North London Line. The doors stay open so I get off and snap a few photos. 
   In truth, I'm a little wary. I only narrowly avoided being mugged and dunked in the River Lea during my last trip down the Wick.
    The floodlights on the roof of the new Olympic Stadium catch my eye, sticking out like bats' ears on east London's shy skyline. I zoom in on the triangular floodlight rigs. They suggest something else too...Pass the Dairylea cheese, please. 
   The red cornetto rising on the left isn't actually inside or attached to the Stadium. It's the cumbersomely titled ArcelorMittal Orbit, a 115 metres (377 feet) high steel sculpture and observation tower. 
   Designed by Anish Kapoor, I can't yet work out if it'll resemble a steel rose or a nose bleed. It should be finished by December. If you don't like it blame Boris Johnson, London's Mayor, and former Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell. Boorish and Tess decided in 2008 the Olympic Park lacked a certain je ne sais quoi. 
Certainly, it'll be Britain's largest piece of public art, made possible by the deeply filled pockets of Britain's richest man, Lakshmi Mittal, chairman of the ArcelorMittal steel company. Lakshmi lashed out £16 million to help cover the sculpted tower's £19.1m cost with the balance coming from the London Development Agency, the capital's regional development body. 
   The sculpted tower celebrates Kapoor's creativity but also manifests Mittal's interwoven personal and corporate ego. It might also mark the LDA's monument. The cut-crazed coalition government wants London's growth promotion agency shutdown by March 2012. 
Looking over Hackney Wick from its elevated station, I can''t help but wonder if £19m might've been better spent creating jobs or building new homes. There seems to be a lot of local creativity. Just look at the graffiti.
   Finally, my train grabs a green signal, eases out of the station and quickly seems swallowed by the organised construction chaos inside the Olympic Park site.
    There's still over a year to go but politicians and media are already asking us to swallow loads of Olympic hype and mucus. Already, I sense distracted brain cells turning to snot. 

Click on images to enlarge. 
Photos: Copyright Paul Coleman. Not to be re-used without permission.

Paul Coleman, London, June 2011.
Click on images to enlarge. 
Photos: Copyright Paul Coleman. Not to be re-used without permission.