Derelict Concrete Barn, St Columb Major

Being quite a local building, I have had my eye on this for a while and have been waiting for the weather to turn and bring an element of drama to the landscape. The typical April weather of storm clouds and bright sunshine felt like a perfect chance to capture this. I only had a few seconds to capture this before the light went again

With more modern technologies and farming practices, this outbuilding has become redundant and sits in contrast to the telecommunication pylon at the edge of the field. With the roof half caved in and heavy cracks forming in the concrete fins, this building serves as a landmark in the vast crop field and as a permanent home to a flock of crows that occasionally take flight on the wind.

Image

©2012 Gareth Thyer
 

Dungeness Lighthouse Lens

Trawling through some old photos of a visit to Dungeness, I came across some interior shots of the coloured lenses displayed in the Old Lighthouse. I remember snapping away in amazement at the vivid greens and reds that were bouncing around the room, and the various new shades that were formed as the light was hitting them. I must confess that I didn’t take these shots with particular care or attention, just as a way of playing with colour…

Which brings me to a constant dilemma that I, as I’m sure many others have, between displaying photographs in colour or black and white. As may be apparent from my recent posts, I am becoming a bit partial to monochrome, but is it ridiculous to remove the colour from a subject such as this? Or is a new layer of detail revealed when the eye is not assaulted by such an intense array? On this occasion I have decided to post both images side by side so the differences (in more than colour) can be seen.

As a bit of background info; this lighthouse is situated in Dungeness in Kent, not too far from the abandoned shack that I photographed here. The lighthouse was built in 1901 and was the fourth lighthouse at Dungeness. It was decommissioned in 1960 when the nuclear power station was built and a new lighthouse was constructed to take over the role. The Fourth (now known as the Old) Lighthouse is now a museum and tourist attraction.

       

 ©2012 Gareth Thyer

 

Royal Albert Bridge restoration

Work is under way on the refurbishment of the Royal Albert Bridge that spans between Saltash in Cornwall and Plymouth in Devon. Four make-shift platforms have been erected to allow the work to be undertaken whilst the bridge is still in operation, allowing trains to pass across unhindered. These temporary tent-like structures have been in place for a while now, but the progress of their work is beginning to show. As each section is completed, the scaffolding is re-erected, moving towards the centre of the span, revealing the newly treated and painted sections.

I took these photos from the mainline train that runs through to London Paddington, giving incredible but brief views of the bridge, constructed in 1859 and designed by the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It was quite a fun way to shoot, with the lens of my camera gingerly poked out of the window and only a few seconds to get the shot. Getting the images like this was in some ways a lot more satisfying than taking hours deliberating over angles and lighting, decisions made in split-seconds and no going back!

©2012 Gareth Thyer
 

Thamesgate Car Park

In the heart of historic Gravesend in Kent, sits the concrete and brick multi-level carpark that serves the Thamesgate shopping centre. This construction is part of a larger development of mediocre post-modern lumps that have been inserted into the historic town on a much larger (and less sympathetic) scale to that of the nearby modernist civic centre and the now derelict Police Station.

It’s tricky to find photographs of this area as it is not the most revered, nor the most loved building in the town and this is where I find myself feeling some affinity towards it. Whilst I won’t attempt to argue its architectural merit, these in-town shopping centres are dying a quiet death. With the monster-mall of Bluewater situated only 5 miles away, retail sales in centres such as these have slumped. Combined with the inability to convert the carpark into anything else due to its minimal floor-to-ceiling heights, we will undoubtably see its demise.

In some lights though, I feel there is some architectural merit. The jutting cantilevers, supported by the tapered columns, and edged by a raked striated balustrade do convey a sense of dynamism; a noble attempt to hide the mundane world of Poundland and Wikinsons beneath.

©2012 Gareth Thyer
 

British Museum Great Court Restaurant

The British Museum was one of the many great buildings that I failed to visit when I was living and working in London, despite it only being 5 minutes walk from my office. Amongst the amazing exhibits in the museum, I was keen to see the Foster+Partners undulating steel and glass roof covering the central courtyard and felt it was well overdue a visit.

This area has been very well photographed, with the geometric patterns of the roof and the juxtaposition of the old and the new leading to some incredible shots. One of the most inspiring views is from the South-East as you enter the courtyard, with  a set of wide stairways leading around the circular reading room, inviting you to climb around the exterior of the stone-clad barrel.

At the top of the restored reading room is the area that I decided to photograph. With the drum sitting tighter against the museum walls on the North-West face, the restaurant situated here is tucked away from the hustle of the courtyard at ground level, the space inbetween forming an unscalable sheer face of stone. In this privileged position, the structure of the roof becomes close enough to touch and offers a unique and different view of the Great Court.

©2012 Gareth Thyer
 

Shad Thames

I made a special visit to London to photograph one of my most favourite architectural curiosities, the street of Shad Thames. This rather pleasant street, situated just to the east of Tower Bridge, has a series of high-level walkways that connect the buildings on either side – Butlers Wharf and the Cardammon Building. These warehouses have now been converted into flats and the bridges are now balconies.

The street has a real Dickensian charm about it, but has been majorly gentrified, with the conversion of the working warehouses on the upper floors and mostly wine bars and restaurants at ground floor. The street is a popular through-fare on the way to the Design Museum from Tower Bridge and offers an interesting alternative route, running parallel to the Thames.

Trying to capture the rich history of this place, with the new local context was quite tricky. Whilst it is easy to focus on the unique high-level walkways, that would have been full of activity in their heyday, much of the life has now moved to the lower levels. Rather than treating these as fetishistic architectural objects, I decided to show more of the modern context, treating the street as a backdrop and a curiosity, rather than the vibrant industrial area that it would have been.

©2012 Gareth Thyer
 

7 More London Facade – Foster + Partners

Building on how well received my Ropemaker facade post was, I thought I’d add another abstract photograph of a new glass development in London. Whilst this may be an obvious photo to take of the complex development on the South-bank of the Thames, I was drawn to the subtle variation in colour and the warm glow coming from the interior lights.

The 60,000sqm office development was the last building to be constructed on the development near Tower Bridge, which includes City Hall. It also achieved a BREEAM outstanding rating, making it one of the most sustainable new speculative developments. The building is now the UK headquarters of the firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

©2012 Gareth Thyer