Monday, November 15th, 2010
17

Ostentatious Building Looks Stabby

"Dubbed the 'Electric Razor' for its three huge wind turbine blades at the summit, the Strata has been equated to a piece of 'chav' architecture that wears its environmental credentials like a Fred Perry logo. It has been criticised for its brashness and its 'stridency', two descriptions which, in the past, would have been proud synonyms for high-rise structures. Today, however, this flagrant behaviour is as unacceptable in our civic architecture as anti-social behaviour is in our civil society, it seems."
—Architects in Britain are debating "beauty," and also debating the debate about "beauty."

17 Comments / Post A Comment

I foresee an epic battle, between Batman and the penthouse tenant, over control of what is obviously a rooftop death ray.

Matt (#26)

Nice.

KarenUhOh (#19)

I see window washers, swinging from the sides with buckets of Aqua Velva.

scroll_lock (#4,122)

This will go great with the Shopping Bag Building and Flash Cube Building in McLean, VA and the Toilet Bowl Building in nearby Vienna.

Christmas is just around the corner!

LondonLee (#922)

If you're going to put up an ugly building The Elephant & Castle is the place to do it. No one will notice it among all the others.

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

Why are highrises in general so ugly in London? I love the Gherkin and BT Tower, but beyond that everything just seems so awkward.

LondonLee (#922)

No worse than anywhere else I would have thought.

Anyway, you try designing a skyscraper that fits in next to St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey. We have nice old shit.

spanish bombs (#562)

I just want to make sure that, in all of this caring about whether or not being ostentatiously green is tacky, this building is super gross.

jrb (#3,020)

Owl of Doom! Owl of Doom!

Flashman (#418)

Until the recession hit I actually was an architect living in Elephant & Castle, so it's funny for me to be seeing this here, and to ponder the strange turns that life can take.
When I left the Elephant this building was merely a fanciful image on a graffiti-covered hoarding by the Heygate Estate (on my website there's a whole section on the Heygate Estate, if you're interested, it was quite a fascination for me when I lived there), and its form as built has hardly changed so it's a bit late for anybody to start whinging about it now.
For me the problem isn't so much that it bears its greenness a little too ostentaciously (the set-in turbines are actually pretty cool-looking, though I wonder how much utility is sacfriced by having them set in one direction?), or even the lipstick/foreskin architectonics. It's what the hell are they trying to achieve with that cladding?
This 'random' look is already a tired trope in lower-rise London architecture; its aim to 'break up' the form and add some sort of visual interest to the streetscape, and on that sort of scale perhaps it is quite successful. But applied to a tall – and rounded – building like this it just looks odd and dischordant. As if either the designers lost their nerve at the last minute and were scrambling for a way to disguise their building in the overcast sky, or else the cladding manufacturer was working from a crappy faxed low-res jpeg when they built the panels.
It's really all about the turbines, and as such they shouldn't have tried to get all fancy, random and organic with that cladding; as visual metaphor a complex turbine 'machine' emerging from a simple unadorned foreskin would have worked much better.

BadUncle (#153)

Yeah, the jumbly bits take what could be a somewhat organic shape and turn it into Fred Sanford's truck.

That said, more windmills, everywhere.

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

As an American, I am a sucker for anything named Elephant & Castle.

BadUncle (#153)

As a New Yorker who appreciates West Village bars, so am I.

pepper (#676)

On the upside, those wind turbines can spray chopped pigeon as far as Lambeth Walk.

Jason Brackins (#8,617)

The shard http://www.shardlondonbridge.com/ will be much stabbier.

Jared (#1,227)

this flagrant behaviour is as unacceptable in our civic architecture as anti-social behaviour is in our civil society

i.e. not unacceptable at all. Kind of entertaining, actually.

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