Berlin on Film

My recent trip to Berlin has left me inspired and I continue to look through the photographs I took in the city imagining a larger project that needs to be brought to life. Which hopefully will once I get the remaining films back.

I found myself leaning towards my film camera more and after seeing some of the first results I can see why. The process of shooting film has become more appealing over the last few years for many reasons, though it is more expensive and it can be weeks, sometimes months, before I see the image. Though, this is mostly due to my shooting habits and a roll of film can be in the camera for a while, with me only taking one or two shots every now and then, before having a batch to send off to the lab. One of my latest films had images from three different countries on it.

While I wait and ponder over the direction I want to take a larger project I wanted to share a handful of images I shot on colour film during a weekend in Berlin, of course they largely focused on architecture.

Kreuzberg Tower

Residential Complex Spitteleck

St Agnes Church

Karl-Marx-Allee

Cafe Moscow

Unknown Apartment Block

Kino International

Jerusalem Church

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

Further reading:

Follow my other film projects such as The Barbican on Film or Documentary in Colour which goes back to a time before I even owned a digital camera.

BRUTAL Bristol

Out of all the cities I have recently visited with the aim to photograph the unique and often brutal architecture, Bristol has far out exceed the others. Those that I found varied in function and design greatly, some of which are among the last remaining examples of their kind. After collaborating on BRUTAL Bristol with other contributors I thought it only fitting to compile a collection of my own.

Cheese Lane Shot Tower

One thing that I have enjoyed about photographing brutal architecture is what it can teach you about past history. A time when function was important and industry was very different. Many of the buildings I aim to capture have an important history and use which in recent years has become obsolete.

This isn’t more true than with the Shot Tower on Cheese Lane. For those, like me, that don’t know what a shot tower is or how the production of lead shot takes place. Let me explain.

The molten lead would be passed through a sieve at height and as it fell the droplets would form balls. At the bottom of the tower would be a pool of water that would dramatically reduce the temperature of the lead in their round form

With a change in production there are now only three shot towers left in the country and as well as being Grade II listed the one on Cheese Lane was the last to be built.

Broadmead Car Park

Prince Street Car Park

Prince St Car Park was especially interesting to me because of its similarities to Welbeck St, I don’t think I would be the first to make the comparison between the two facades. Also to be in a city with a surviving Brutalist car park made me think of Portsmouth’s long lost Tricorn.

Broadmead Baptist Church

In my opinion Broadmead Baptist Church would be Bristol’s hidden gem. Unassuming from the outside people walk below without even realising what may be above them. If you are one of the rare people to look up from street level you are teased by the angular roof and glass that leaves little hint to what would be inside. Adding to that is the building is largely home to a Tesco Metro, so many would assume nothing more than a stockroom or offices.

Castlemead

Though Castlemead loomed over the city and was continuously in view as I explored the city, it was late in the afternoon when I walked underneath its bulky form.

Clifton Cathedral

Clifton Cathedral was one of the reasons I wanted to visit Bristol in the first place. Its interior is remarkable. Every corner and detail is different to anything I have seen before. It makes concrete look elegant, detailed and delicate.

Rupert Street Car Park

Plimsoll Swing Bridge

Heading out of Bristol’s centre is Plimsoll Swing Bridge. Though the bridge and its function is unique in itself it was a few of the details that I was interested in, the control booth and staircases in particular. It was also from here where I could get a great view of another, more famous bridge, Clifton.

Further Reading:

This is the third post in my BRUTAL city series which focus on highlighting a particular city and its unique architecture, the previous ones were Hull and Oxford. Where next?

Jo Underhill is a fantastic photographer who has captured a number of brutal car parks across the country including Welbeck Street and Bristol’s Prince Street Car Park, which I would recommend taking a look at.

Many of the buildings here feature in BRUTAL Bristol, a collaborative zine created to showcase the unique architecture of Bristol from the perspective of photographers, writers, creatives and enthusiasts. There are a few copies of the zine left and so far it has helped FareShare SouthWest provide over a thousand meals for families in need!

Järvenpää Church through the Seasons

Over the years I have visited Järvenpää Church a number of times. At first it was just exploring the building and its surroundings, then I began to capture the same perspectives but at different times of the year.

Further Reading:

Exploring Linnahall through the Seasons

Chichester Festival Theatre

Chichester Festival Theatre is one of the closest and finest examples of Brutalism that I have to home. I often visit Chichester and it has been a focus of my photography work in the past, especially when exploring the city’s architecture for South Coast Journal.

Over the years I have shot the building numerous times, as well as on different formats. What follows is a collection of images showing Chichester Festival Theatre at different times of day and during different seasons.

Chichester Festival Theatre

The Barbican on Film

The Barbican Estate was built on a area of land in London devastated by bombings during World War II. Buildings within the Estate started to open from 1969 onwards, with the last being Shakespeare Tower, one of the prominent tower blocks, in 1976. The completion of the Estate provided over 2000 flats in the City of London.

The Barbican Estate, Arts Centre, library and a few other buildings make up the Grade II listed Barbican Complex and it is regarded as an excellent example of brutalism.

My plan was to walk around the estate capturing the buildings that comprise the Barbican complex on various film formats, mostly in black and white. It was during my second stop that disaster struct and I dropped the Polaroid camera that I planned to use for a majority of shots.

The damaged caused to the Polaroid meant that all subsequent shots came out blurry. I had only taken one shot before entering the complex of the looming high rise towers.

With the Polaroid abandoned I continued on with my film camera loaded with Ilford HP5 Plus.

The Barbican complex is a maze. I have been there a number of times before and always wandered in and out where ever the route took me, along the way discovering different places, some of which you wouldn’t expect to find in central London.

This time I tried to follow a certain path. The stairs and dead ends became frustrating, made worse by the fact that I had dropped and broken a camera. Each turning never took me in the direction I wanted to go but nonetheless fantastic opportunities to capture the buildings, their details and a large part of the complex.

I want this project to continue and grow on each visit. Discovering new parts and details about the Barbican as I go. The grand plan to extensively photograph the complex and one day to eventually visit the elusive Barbican Conservatory.

Further reading:

I recently watched a fantastic video called Golden Barbican by Joe Gilbert who captured the changing colours of the Barbican during several sunsets.

Capturing Brutalism continues with my BRUTAL Collection.

The Contributors of BRUTAL Bristol

I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the contributors of BRUTAL Bristol by sharing their work and how to find out more about them. Without their interest and support in this project it would have never left the idea stage.

I hope that if you either already have a copy of the zine or you see their work for the first time here you will visit the links provided and show your support.

Ryan Trower

ryantrower.com 
Instagram @ryan_trower
Twitter @ryantrowerphoto

Simon Phipps

www.simonphipps.co.uk
Instagram @new_brutalism
Twitter @new_brutalism

Jo Underhill

structuraleye.co.uk
Instagram @jounderhill
Twitter @jostructuraleye

Alasdair Ferguson

brutalist.studio
Instagram @brut.alist

Andy Duffy

Instagram – @duffmonkey

David Griffith

david-griffiths.format.com
Instagram @david.griffiths
Twitter @dpgriffiths

Spaceplay

space-play.co.uk
Instagram @space.play

You can get your own concrete mini of Prince Street Car Park from Spaceplay as well as a couple of car park that have since been demolished, including Welbeck Street and The Tricorn.

David Bonney

Twitter @isetta_windsor

The zine wouldn’t have been possible without the written input from Tom Spooner, who provided his insights into Boardmead Baptist Church, and Ray Newman who talked us through the high rise tower blocks of Redcliffe.

Tom Spooner
thespoonsterspouts.com 
Instagram @dapwearer 
Twitter @dapwearer

Ray Newman
precastreinforced.co.uk
Instagram @ray.newman
Twitter @MrRayNewman

Further Reading:

BRUTAL Bristol is a collaborative zine created to showcase the unique architecture of Bristol from the perspective of photographers, writers, creatives and enthusiasts.

Money raised from the sale of BRUTAL Bristol and related prints will be donated to FareShare South West, a charity working in the Bristol area fighting against food waste and hunger.

Introducing BRUTAL Bristol

Through a chance visit during an extremely unusual year I was in Bristol. A city I had visited a few times before but one I had never really explored. I was driven by the shots of the iconic Clifton Cathedral I had seen but I wanted to find out more about the city and especially its buildings.

I went to Twitter and asked for suggestions from a growing community of Brutalism enthusiasts, a community that I felt I had become apart of over the last few years.

I was flooded with fantastic photographs and articles of hidden gems and iconic architecture that Bristol had to offer. I had been given some insights and suggestions from photographers, writers, creatives and other enthusiasts of buildings and places to visit and see while I was there.

I had glimpsed the city from the perspective of others and upon my return I wanted to capture that again. An idea began to take shape and that grew, resulting in BRUTAL Bristol. Many of the people that had first offered their suggestions feature in the zine as they influenced my own photography.

BRUTAL Bristol is a collaborative zine created to showcase the unique architecture of Bristol from the perspective of photographers, writers, creatives and enthusiasts.

The zine aims to take the medium of one community and make a positive difference in another. With that in mind money raised from this zine and its related prints will be donated to the charity FareShare South West.

Further Reading:

You can pick up a copy of BRUTAL Bristol and help FareShare South West deliver food to those in the most need.

FareShare South West was formed in 2007 to help tackle the food poverty issue in the South West. They work in close partnership with hundreds of local organisations, delivering food to those most in need across the South West through different means. In 2020 and 2021 they responded to the pandemic by scaling up their operations by over five times to deliver an Emergency Food Operation. With cuts being made to charities and vital services across the region, now more than ever we have a responsibility to use surplus food as a force for good.

The Arts Tower

It was a last minute dash to head over to The Arts Tower before leaving Sheffield and driving south. The short winter days left little time for photography and the sun was already low in the sky, casting shadows over the lower floors of the building when I arrived.

The Arts Tower

The Arts Tower

The Arts Tower was opened in 1966 by The Queen Mother. Belonging to the University of Sheffield it was at first home to its eighteen art departments. For many years it was the tallest building in Sheffield.

The Arts Tower

The Arts Tower

Short on time I never ventured inside, missing a very well known and unique detail of The Arts Tower, its paternoster lift, one of only a handful left in the UK.

The Arts Tower

BRUTAL Hull

I have to admit visiting Hull was a last minute decision. I had never heard much about the city nor given a reason that visiting the city was a must. After immersing myself in the world of Brutalism and historical architecture under threat Hull was suddenly on my radar, and for unlikely reasons a must visit destination.

BRUTAL Hull

The conversation around the Three Ship mural in the city centre was reaching a critical point and the buildings future was in trouble. Visiting a friend in Yorkshire I knew I would never be closer. Even though Hull was a four hour detour I had to go and I must say the city impressed me.

Its architecture was diverse, from the historical buildings that surround Queen Victoria Square to the modern glass and steel design of The Deep. And of course there was plenty of concrete.

Tidal Surge Barrier

BRUTAL Hull

Coming across the Tidal Barrier was a happy accident. I had taken a route from the car to take in The Deep which I knew about already due to its unique shape and striking presence next to the sea.

Hull has always had trouble with flooding as the city is barely above sea level. After the devastating floods in 1969 it was clear that something had to be done but it took another decade before the solution was found.

Since then the Tidal Barrier has been protecting the city, being deployed around thirty times a year. In 2009 and 2010 the barrier underwent a £10 million refurbishment project and since 2017 it has been Grade II listed.

Not only was finding the tidal barrier a great surprise, the shots I took of the structure were among my favourite from my time in Hull.

BRUTAL Hull

Hull College

The view from Queen’s Gardens to Hull College and the Wilberforce Monument is quite striking. At the time I didn’t know the importance of what I was looking at but I soon found out once I had returned from Hull.

BRUTAL Hull

The Wilberforce Monument stands 31m over Queen’s Gardens, where it was relocated to in 1935. William Wilberforce was a British politician who was born in Hull. Throughout his career he worked to abolish the slave trade. He died three days after the Slavery Abolition Act was passed and buried in Westminster Abbey.

BRUTAL Hull

In the foreground is a fountain, that was out of use during the winter, and an untitled concrete mural of birds in flight designed by Robert Adams. If you look closely at the facade of Hull College you may be able to spot a panel by William Mitchell representing nautical and mathematical instruments.

Co-op/BHS Building

BRUTAL Hull

It was the reason for me being in Hull. I had to see the building the internet had been talking about before it was demolished. At the time I had written about Alan Boyson’s Three Ships Mural and the battle that was going on to protect it.

I still can’t see why the city planners couldn’t see the historical significances to the mural, maybe the fact that it was attached to a piece of potential prime real estate may have played a large part in their decision making. It seemed that the last thought on their mind has how it could be preserved rather how it could be developed.

Development of the site has been complicated and hit a few problems along the way. Since my visit to Hull there has been increased pressure, primarily from Save Hull’s BHS/Co-Op Murals Twitter account, which has finally resulted in the mural being granted Grade II listed status and more recently the council committed to plans that will ‘save and restore’ the Three Ships Mural. A decision they have been forced into but a decision that they should have made in the first place.

BRUTAL Hull

The Humber Bridge

Leaving the city I had to stop off and look across the Humber and the impressive bridge that spans the estuary. For seventeen years after the Humber bridge opened in 1981 it was the longest of its type in the world. The addition of the bridge cut 50 miles off of the drive from Hull to Grimsby on the other side of the Humber.

BRUTAL Hull

Further Reading:

I wrote about by reasons behind my visit to Hull and the mission to Save the Three Ships.

Since writing BRUTAL Oxford I have wanted to highlight other cities for their unique architecture and hope to publish a few more in the future. Next up Bristol.

A deeper look at the architecture and its history by Municipal Dreams.

Habitat 67

In 2007 I was living in Canada for a year. I travelled from Toronto to Montreal for a weekend to meet a family relative and I was taken around the city and shown the sights. These included the Biodome, a building originally built in 1976 for the Montreal Olympics as a velodrome but now is home to four different ecosystems, and the Biosphere built by the United States for Expo 67 that was held in the city.

Montreal has been shaped by the two events, especially the Expo. A subway system was constructed and the excavated soil was used to create Notre Dame Island. Just across the Saint Lawrence River an experimental building was built, Habitat 67.

Nick Coupland Habitat 67
Nick Coupland – Habitat 67

I was recently encouraged to look through my photos after seeing Nick Coupland‘s artwork of Habitat 67. I originally thought that I had only taken two or three shots during my visit to the apartment complex so I was quite surprised to find a wide range exploring the exterior of the building and an inner courtyard.

Habitat 67

BRUTAL Habitat 67

BRUTAL Habitat 67

Habitat 67 was designed by student architect Moshe Safdie as part of his program at McGill University. Eventually it was picked and funded for the Expo. 354 prefabricated concrete boxes were made on site. These were arranged in various ways and at its tallest Habitat 67 reaches 12 stories in height.

BRUTAL Habitat 67

BRUTAL Habitat 67

BRUTAL Habitat 67

It’s hard to understand from the outside how this mishmash of identical blocks stacked together make a coherent living space on the inside. Originally Habitat 67 had 158 apartments varing in size. Over time changes were made, walls were knocked through to make larger living spaces decreasing the number of apartments to 148.

BRUTAL Habitat 67

BRUTAL Habitat 67

BRUTAL Habitat 67

Habitat 67 was meant to revolutionise affordable prefabricated housing but some felt that the eventual high rent prices were a sign of the buildings failure. It is also situated in a part of Montreal that isn’t easily accessible by public transport. Luckily when I visited I was taken there by car.

Still Habitat 67 was a great success during the Expo and helped launch Safdie’s career as an architect. The building has since become a symbol of Expo 67 and a recognisable landmark.

BRUTAL Habitat 67

BRUTAL Habitat 67

BRUTAL Habitat 67

Further Reading:

One of my images from Habitat 67 is available as a print for a short period of time.

This profile is part of a larger project to document and photograph buildings around the world, these have included The Tricorn, All Saints ChurchWelbeck St Car Park and Järvenpää Church.

Nick Coupland has illustrated Habitat 67 and has them available as prints.

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