Brutal Oxford

Oxford was my first day trip of the year. Its university is well known and brings people from all over the world to the city. With the growth of Oxford University buildings were needed, many of which date back to its early beginnings. There are examples of many different architectural styles but I was there for one in particular.

Though there is a wealth of historical architecture I was most interested in that of a brutal nature. Oxford University has played a large part in the buildings of the city, and that is true even right up until the modern day. My research started with the Denys Wilkinson Building and grew from there.

Denys Wilkinson Building

The Denys Wilkinson Building is home to the astrophysics and particle physics departments of Oxford University. Designed by Philip Dowson and built in the late 60s it became a prominent example of new brutalism in Oxford. Originally it was named the Nuclear Physics Laboratory as it was going to house the department of nuclear physics. In 2001 the name was changed in honour of British nuclear physicist Sir Denys Wilkinson.

Denys Wilkinson Building - Brutal Oxford

The fan shaped structure is home to a Van de Graaff generator.

Denys Wilkinson Building - Brutal Oxford

Thom Building

Located at the north end of the building is the Thom Building which is home to the Department of Engineering Science. The building is named after Alexander Thom, a Scottish engineer who was a professor at Oxford University.

Thom Building - Brutal Oxford

Oxford Centre for Innovation

The only building featured that isn’t linked to an educational institution. The Oxford Centre for Innovation provides offices and workspaces with the aim to support growing businesses.

Oxford Centre for Innovation - Brutal Oxford

Oxford Centre for Innovation - Brutal Oxford

Thomas White Building

The Thomas White Building is Grade II listed and belongs to St John’s College, providing accommodation for its students. The 1960s saw a rise in student admissions and accommodation was needed urgently, Philip Dowson’s design was chosen which created 154 flats.

Brutal Oxford

The Thomas White Building was featured on Historic England’s list of 20 intriguing places in 2017.

Brutal Oxford

Margery Fry House

Officially the  building is called Margery Fry & Elizabeth Nuffield House and it provides accommodation for Somerville college. Slightly back from Little Claredon Street is Vaughan House, similar in style and design only larger in size. Both buildings were also designed by Philip Dowson.

Margery Fry House - Brutal Oxford

Margery Fry House - Brutal Oxford

A concrete exterior frame surrounds both buildings and they sit above a row of shops on street level.

Margery Fry House - Brutal Oxford

 

Further Reading:

I have written about a few other examples of brutal architecture in England and you can find them here:

It’s too Late to Save Welbeck Street Car Park

Saving the Three Ships

The Tricorn

CCTV Building

CCTV Building
CCTV Building

The CCTV building is the China Central Television (CCTV) headquarters located near to the Third Ring Road in Beijing’s new Central Business District. The unique design involves two L-shaped towers connected at the top and the bottom to form a continuous structure.

At its tallest point the building is 234m high with the two towers connecting on the 51st floor, 163m above the ground. The grounds and gardens below were designed to double as filming grounds for the corporation.

CCTV Building

 

During my trip to Beijing visiting the CCTV building was high on my list, I was even luckily enough to visit it both at day and night. It’s wasn’t like anything I had seen or photographed before and I knew it would be an important inclusion when putting together Offbeat.

CCTV Building

 

Further reading:

My book OFFBEAT featuring the CCTV Building in Beijing is now out of print but you can find more details about it HERE.

Koolhaas, Delirious in Beijing from the New York Times.

From conception to construction: China Central Television (CCTV) Headquarters.

From the architects OMA.

Crossing the Nullarbor

Over the last few weeks I have been working on something I have been trying to bring to light for ten years. In 2009 I crossed the Nullarbor in Australia by car, a stretch of desert crossing South Australia and Western Australia. We would be driving for three days, 1200 km, through an unchanging landscape and I wanted to document that somehow.

I came up with the idea of photographing the road from the back seat of our car. Taken at regular intervals it would be an unbiased view of what the landscape was like and if it was really as barren as people had told me.

Straight after the trip I made prints of the photos and kept them in an envelope buried away with the intention of one day building them into something bigger. Over the last year Crossing the Nullarbor began to take shape, and finally, a few weeks ago I finished my copy. I wrote the text and typed it up using a typewriter, drew the maps and bound it all together.

Once it was finished I could see an idea realised and its potential for a larger audience. I began recreating the pages digitally with the intention of releasing it as a small zine. Last year I had released my first zine BRUTAL and had enjoyed the process. It was great how easy it was for photographers to release their own work once they had found their audience.

But then something happened.

I sat there with a finished idea, ready to click the print button, but I changed my mind. This was an idea that had been interesting to me for years and I had something I was very happy with.

But I began to doubt if that was of interest to anyone else.

The fear of creating something so personal to me and it not being received how I hoped it would be began to outweigh the reasons to publish it. With doubt overshadowing the project I buried it away again not knowing how to proceed.

Further reading:

This isn’t the first time I have talked about Crossing the Nullarbor where you can read about the trip in a little more detail.

HOW-TO: YOUR ULTIMATE GUIDE TO PRINTING A PHOTOGRAPHY ZINE from Emulsive

I have released two other zines, Offbeat from my trip to Beijing and BRUTAL featuring photographs from the Tricorn.

Järvenpää Church

Järvenpää Church is located in the Finnish town of Järvenpää, 40km north of the capital Helsinki. The church was designed by the Finnish architect Erkki Elomaa and construction was completed in 1968. Though the outside is brutal in nature the inside is furnished in wood and has room for over six hundred people.

Järvenpää ChurchJärvenpää Church

The church tower houses four bells that came from Austria and six different tunes were composed by Joonas Kokkonen.

Järvenpää Church

In 2009 Järvenpää Church was voted the ugliest church in Finland.

Järvenpää Church

Since seeing Järvenpää Church for the first time I have been back regularly to photograph the building throughout the seasons. I am lucky enough that when I am in Finland I am only a short drive from the Church.

Further reading:

Järvenpää Church is part of my BRUTAL Collection.

For more images visit #SOSBRUTALISM

From Perth to Portsmouth

Perth, Australia 2010

Ten years ago I had already been living in Australia for 6 months. I had worked at a ski resort , lived in Melbourne and crossed the Nullarbor,  before ending up in Perth. It was a great city but my time there was short. I worked at the cricket ground and caught up with friends but I never really settled there and it wasn’t long before I moved on to South Australia.

From Perth to Portsmouth

Portsmouth, England 2020

Now, after ten years living abroad, I find myself back home. Full circle. Years away has given me a new outlook on my hometown but has also allowed me to fall back into old habits and routines that you miss while living away.

From Perth to Portsmouth

Location Unknown 2030

Though the last ten years were, and probably will be, the most adventurous of my life I am excited about a new decade. Instead of long trips that last years I plan to make as many short ones as possible. Portsmouth is home, for now at least, but after living in Helsinki for five years I am often tempted to return.

Further reading:

The Body of Chairman Mao

The Face of Melbourne

Klis Fortress

 

The Budapest Metro

The Budapest Metro

The Budapest Metro

Budapest has one of the oldest Metro’s in the world, though from small beginnings it is gradually growing. Metro Line M1 opened in 1896 and is still in use today. The latest addition, Metro Line M4, opened in 2014 and a fifth line is currently being planned.

The Budapest Metro

I was in Budapest for the weekend and the city’s public transportation system was going to be how I got around to the places I wanted to see. I would be using the metro system for those longer trips while relying on Budapest’s extensive tram network for those shorter ones.

The Budapest Metro

Metro Line M1

Metro Line M1 Is a unique experience. Immediately upon entering one of the stations you are surrounded by tiled walls and wood panelling. The trains are small and simple, perfect for serving the short platforms. Inside there is little seating, instead leather straps hanging from the hand rails, to maximise standing room.

The Budapest Metro

This line has been in constant use since 1896 and is known locally as a kisföldalatti, the small underground. Surprisingly M1 took less than 2 years to complete, which is incredible as the more recent M4 took 10 years. In the 1980s and 90s major reconstruction work was carried out though the original appearance was preserved. At this time three stations were added to the route. The Budapest Metro

Metro Line M3

M3 is the longest line in Budapest, with 20 stations and measuring 16.5km long. A number of times throughout its operation people have called for it to be updated but work has only recently begun. Due to construction work I was unable to travel using this line and instead had to regularly rely on a replacement bus service.

The Budapest Metro

Metro Line M4

Metro Line M4 is the newest addition to the Budapest system, though construction eventually began in 2004 the first 10 stations weren’t opened until 2014. It was first proposed that the line would open in 2003 but faced continuous delays, 17 in fact. Finally open the line had cost 1.5 billion Euros.

The Budapest Metro

The scale of the spaces is huge. The station platforms are large and cavernous, especially when you compare them to the cramped M1 line. Though I travelled at different times throughout the day there was never a time where they felt crowded. More often than not they were empty, which was perfect for taking photographs.

The Budapest Metro

The Budapest Metro

During my time in Budapest this line was the one I used the most, largely because M3 was closed for construction work, but also because it was home to some of the more appealing stations. It was clear that during the planning process they had given some thought to the individual design of the stations, though many involved large amounts of concrete.

The Budapest Metro

There are two stations on the M4 line that stand out amongst the rest. Szent Gellért for its mosaic platform tunnel and Rákóczi tér which is decorated Red, white and green, the colours of the Hungarian flag.

The Budapest Metro

The Budapest Metro

The Budapest Metro

The Budapest Metro

I have come to find that using the Metro of places I visit has changed over the years. The reason to travel by metro is not only to get from A to B but the metro itself has become the reason. They are often places of design and interest, their symmetry and spaces are pleasing especially when it comes to photography. The journey has become the destination.

The Budapest Metro

Further Reading:

My photos from Helsinki Metro with one of it’s stations featuring an exhibition space for featured artists.

My latest posts from Budapest The Unusual Road to Kerepesi Cemetery and a quick piece about All Saints Church.

The Unusual Road to Kerepesi Cemetery

While in Budapest I really wanted to visit All Saints Church and It had come down to the last minute. The Sunday morning before my flight I took a bus into the hills on the Buda side of the capital. It was early when I arrived at the church but not early enough.

All Saints Church

The church was busy with people coming for the Sunday service, there were already plenty of people inside and seating was quickly filling up. As I stood taking my last photos of the unique building a man approached me and asked if I was from around this area.

He introduced himself as Warren Richardson, an Australian photographer living in Budapest. He told me about the nearby cemetery and pointed out the hills he was heading into to shoot some abandoned Buildings.

I explained that I was tight on time and waiting for the next bus back to town as my flight was leaving in the afternoon. He said not to worry, there was a train station on my bus route back to the city centre and I should get off there and explore a nearby cemetery.

Keleti Station

I found the station easily, the bus stopped right outside. I went inside to admire the architecture and watch as people made their daily commute.

From Keleti Station I followed the instructions as best as I could. They were fairly simple. Outside the station I spotted the small narrow street only for trams, that Warren had told me to look out for, and followed that until I reached the walled perimeter of Kerepesi Cemetery.

Kerepesi Cemetery

The cemetery was vast, with winter in full effect. There wasn’t a single leaf left on the trees that lined the long roads as they stretched off into the distance.

There was a mix of old and new in the cemetery. Many of the older graves and tombstones showed their age, to me these were the most interesting. It was hard to tell if the damage was something that had just happened over time or were signs of Hungary’s troubled past.

One of the reasons Warren had suggested the cemetery to me was there were apparently hidden signs of World War II. He had described a statue to me of a woman with her head bowed and hands drapped over the top of the tombstone. I found what I thought had been described to me  and when I looked closely there were age worn holes that may have been the bullet holes he had mentioned.

Due to my time constraints I was only able to explore a small section of the cemetery but what I saw in that short period of time left a lasting expression on me. Kerepesi Cemetery became a highlight of my weekend in Budapest, not only because of what I saw there but because of the story that took me there in the first place.

Further Reading:

Australian photographer Warren Richardson

A short piece about All Saints Church

All Saints Church, Budapest

All Saints Church, Budapest

Due to financial constraints architect István Szabó decided to use prefabricated elements and concrete when constructing All Saints Church. The unusual looking church is located in a hilly neighbourhood on the Buda side of the Hungarian capital. The project was financed by donations and built largely by volunteers from the parish.

All Saints Church, Budapest

Saving the Three Ships

When I first joined the conversation about Brutalism it was largely focused on Welbeck Street Car Park and the failed attempts to preserve it. Plans had been approved and demolition had begun, at the time of writing the building is completely gone.

But since then there has been a new agenda on the table, the Hull Three Ships Mural by Alan Boyson.

When I first began to read about the fight to preserve the mural as the council made plans to develop the surrounding building it felt as if it were a million miles away. A place I was never going to visit.

But I would.

During a trip to Yorkshire the conversation was reaching a critical point and this felt like as good as time as any to go. Under two hours away I wouldn’t be any closer for a while and it looked like I might not get the chance.

It had already been decided by the council that the mural wouldn’t be able to be saved, as originally thought, due to high amounts of asbestos in the building. In their opinion there was little they could do to preserve Alan Boyson’s artwork and it would be demolished with the building as planned.

Saving the Three Ships

Simple in design but excruciatingly detailed in execution it towers over the pedestrian cross roads. The mural is made from millions of small tiles of glass and features three ships, representing Hull’s fishing industry, and the cities name spelled out in their masts. Also, across the centre of the mural a latin phrase can be read, res per industriam prosperae meaning the success of industry.

I stood there photographing the mural as people passed on their way through the high street, paying more attention to what I was doing than to what has become a symbol of their city.

The former BHS store was large and appeared to have been empty for quite some time. I walked around the exterior and you could understand why the local council were interested in redeveloping the area. Inside was another mural by Boyson depicting a shoal of fish, it had been lost behind a wall for a number of years, but there was very little chance of seeing it from street level.

Saving the Three Ships

Later that week news came that the Three Ships had been approved for Grade II listed status and would now be protected during any future development plans. 

Of course for Hull City council the news wasn’t ideal, with one referring to the decision as ‘ridiculous’.

Saving the Three Ships

I was glad to see a positive outcome, people had worked hard to keep something that was important to them and hopefully for others in the future. I had seen failure before with the Tricorn and a city that was unable to come to a solution that the only choice they were left with was to demolish it.

Further reading:

Two buildings of unique design that weren’t as lucky to receive listed status and have been demolished, Welbeck Street Car Park and The Tricorn

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