It’s too Late to Save Welbeck Street Car Park

It's too Late to Save Wellbeck Street Car Park

Welbeck Street Car Park is a short walk from Oxford Street in London. It was designed and built in the Brutalist style in the 1970s as parking for the nearby Debenhams. Its facade made from prefabricated concrete polygons has become very recognisable.

It's too Late to Save Wellbeck Street Car Park

In 2017 a petition was started in order to put pressure on Historic England to grant the building with listed status or at least consider a design of the new hotel that incorporated the iconic facade. Unfortunately, both were unsuccessful.

It's too Late to Save Wellbeck Street Car Park

It's too Late to Save Wellbeck Street Car Park

The demolition was scheduled and plans went ahead to turn the site into a 10 storey, 206 bedroom hotel.

It's too Late to Save Wellbeck Street Car Park

It's too Late to Save Welbeck Street Car Park

I visited the car park in early 2019, at the time demolition hadn’t begun on the facade but work was definitely in progress. There were workman on every corner taking their breaks and the lower level entrances had been boarded up. Since then, scaffolding has been erected around the outside.

It's too Late to Save Wellbeck Street Car Park

I made it just in time to take my photos, maybe a little too late. I would have like to see the building from the inside and had the freedom to move around the building more freely with uninterrupted views. Hopefully I will be able to return in the future and photograph the change, whether or not it is for better or worse.

It's too Late to Save Wellbeck Street Car Park

 

Further reading:

Brutalist Welbeck Street car park will definitely be demolished

The design for the new hotel can see seen in the article from Architects’ Journal

The now closed petition Save Welbeck Street Car Park from Demolition !!

Fair Welbeck Street

Fair Welbeck Street

FAIR WELBECK STREET, in all your brutalist majesty,

Balanced & bold against the massive London sky,

Teetering house of cards, it would be such a travesty

To bring the barrier down, and say goodbye.

In your storey-stacked style, you seem to call

To days when we were young, shook hands, dreamed dreams

Of progress, motion, of standing tall, a future fast and fine as jet streams.

These five-sided triangles, pointing down from above, certain in saying: YOU ARE HERE. You are loved.

And now your days are nearly gone, but turning off the thoroughfare

I find your striplights glaring on, the ever-widening dream, still there.

I know I shall pass by one morning, to find an absence in your place.

Let traffic dip its lights in mourning, for your cemented charm, your concrete grace.

Farewell, fair Welbeck Street, too beautiful to last

Once you were the future

Welcome to the past.

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The Human Body

I don’t spend nearly enough time in London, it’s a great city with so much to offer. When I do make it there I often get wrapped up in the usual sights to see anything new from the city, but I normally come across one or two new details which impress me.

More often than not these details are the ones that you come across by mistake, you find them when you least expect to, they surprise you, and this is exactly what happened during my recent visit.

But before I tell that story I have to go back a few years to the beginning.

Around five years ago I was flying out to Helsinki from London and had heard about a Damien Hirst exhibition taking place at the Tate Modern, I decided to head down a day early, stay with a friend, and catch my flight after checking out the exhibition.

The Human Body

Damien Hirst at the Tate

Outside the Tate Modern I was greeted by a large sculpture of a human body. The sculpture closely resembled the plastic figures that are used in biology classes,  the ones you can take apart to understand the body’s anatomy, only much larger.

It was my first time at the Tate and my first time seeing Hirst’s work, both equally impressive. I had arrived early and the museum hadn’t yet opened for the day so I spent a bit of time photographing the sculpture and the view over the Millenium Bridge to St Paul’s.

The sculpture itself looked over one of my most favourite views of the city.

The Human Body

Sculpture in the City

This brings me to my more recent visit.

On the way to Leadenhall Market, one of London’s oldest market, to meet a friend I came across another sculpture. At first I thought the sculpture was the same as the one I had seen in London all those years go. It wasn’t until I came home and delved into my archives that I realised they were different.

My searched deepened, I found out the name of the piece, Temple also by Damien Hirst, and that it was part of a public art exhibition called Sculpture in the City.

I guess the point of this story is to say that two unconnected points in time can be linked in a way you may have never expected, chance encounters that take you back in time to past moments. If nothing else it was a good excuse to go through some old photos.

Further Reading:

More from Sculpture in the City 2017 by TimeOut and about the artworks.

Also my last post about the Black Shed Expanded

Explore the Helsinki Metro and the sculptures you can see along the journey, as well as the Sculptures of Helsinki in general.

Sculpture in the City

Black Shed Expanded

Black Shed Expanded by Nathaniel Rackowe stands below the building more commonly known as the Gherkin. The shed, painted in black bitumen, looks as if it is being blown apart by the yellow light that comes from within.

Rackowe said about his work, ‘I thought it interesting to take the humble shed and elevate it so it can rise up and challenge architecture, deconstructing it to the point where you are forced to re-read it.’

Black Shed Expanded is part of a larger public exhibition know as Sculpture in the City comprising of 18 other pieces dotted around the financial district of London.

Further Reading:

Sculpture in the City: About the artworks

Public art in the Helsinki Metro

Sculptures of Helsinki

Jussi TwoSeven the street artist that displays his work in public places

By Night

Night photography takes a little more technique and time than just point and shoot. You have to know the functions of your camera well but the end results can always be different and sometime surprising. For me I think that is part of the appeal.

The inspiration for this post comes from a post card a friend of mine would always send me. The card would be completely blank with the simple phrase ‘(Insert name of city he was visiting at the time) By Night’.  The scene never changed, just the name of the city it was supposed to be representing.

 

Tate modern

Tate Modern

The Bankside Power Station in London is now home to the Tate Modern. At first there had been a coal fired power station in this location from 1891 but the area was developed and construction of the current building was fully completed in 1963. Between 1952-1981  the power station generated electricity for the city.

The building sits on the bank of the Thames and is seen as a historical icon of the city. Its unique chimney was restricted at a height of 99m as it had be lower St. Paul’s Cathedral on the opposite bank. In recent years the building went through a £134 million conversion project and opened in 2000 as the Tate Modern

These photographs were taken at a time when the Tate Modern was hosting a Damien Hirst exhibit and the statue outside was part of his work, other famous work of Hirst is the 50 million diamond encrusted platinum skull and the shark in a tank, both were featured in the exhibit.

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The Royal Family

Buckingham Palace, London

Buckingham Palace, London

The Royal Family costs ever taxpayer in the UK £1.33 per year. Some people argue that the cost of the Royal Family is largely compensated by the tourism that they bring to the country. This number can’t actually be estimated but the Royal Family does at least play a large part in creating our national identity.

Buckingham Palace is a part of my post The Lost Landmarks.