Saturday, January 27, 2007

No snow

There was snow in the garden when I left the house on Wednesday morning. This also happened to be the day when the entire tube was buggered, so I took the bus to work. This afforded the opportunity, when changing buses near Liverpool Street, to take the photo I hadn't taken the other day.
broadgate towerbroadgate tower Dec 2006201 Bishopsgate 21/1
You'll notice that there's not a trace of snow (although there was noticeable wind damage at the city limits). I do wonder if it settled at all. They do say he centre of cities is a good few degrees warmer than elsewhere. But, snow or no snow, it's shooting up at a rate of knots.

I plan to do an examination of different designs of crane someday soon. Ones with a pivot are very common in London, whereas back in chester it was always a rigid arm with a sliding anchor for the cable. Near the new Home office (splendid building where people walk a lot) there is a crane with a kink halfway up the lifting arm. I can hardly bear to imagine the stresses it must endure.

As a result of this early photographic excursion I had my camera handy at work. Come sunset I took a photo of tower 42 looking like it was on fire, and this one of St Pauls looking saintly.
St Paul's from Millbank

Friday, January 26, 2007

OK or Cancel

This post has nothing to do with skyscrapers. The fact it has nothing to do with skyscrapers has nothing to do with the previous post; I met Tom on Wednesday, who told me he read my blog a few times while he was in Nicaragua... but this didn't get picked up by Google Analytics or Clustrmaps. I can therefore quite happily convince myself that I'm getting literally bilions of unrecorded hits.

What this post is about is the convention that "OK" and "Cancel" buttons are always right next to each other in graphical user interfaces. Why? Why put two things which do the complete opposite to each other - sometimes with disastrous consequences - right next to each other, thus making it eay to accidentally do the opposite to what you wanted? It makes far more sense to leave a substantial gap between the buttons. In dialogue boxes in Windows (and also, it has to be said, design gurus Apple) there is normallyt plentiful room to spread them out.

I'm assuming no-one's ever thought of this before because:

  • There are thousands of software companies out there
  • If you have the idea, then implementing it would be easy, and without dire consequences
  • But no one's done it in their software or websites

I conclude that I am a design genius

And I bid you goodnight

Monday, January 22, 2007

Just an afterthought

It is a bit dispiriting, it has to be said, writing a blog that very few people read. In the short term it's still fun, but I'd like to keep it going long term too, and a sense of purpose is importnat to that I think.

I'm contemplating starting posts with non skyscraper stuff.

Hmm, will need to consider if this despoiling is justifiable.

And that's exactly how it happened...

Broadgate tower from Goldsmith's RowBroadgate Tower from Columbia RoadSilhouetted Broadgate towerBroadgate Tower from corner of Bethnal Green roadBroadgate Tower glazingBroadgate Tower glazingClose of Broadgate Tower steelBase of Broadgate towerBroadgate Tower claddingRear of Broadgate TowerBroadgate Tower 14/1/07Broadgate Tower 14/1/07Broadgate Tower 14/1/07Broadgate Tower 14/1/07201 Bishopsgate 14/1/07
I can tell no lie.

I walked out the house, over the canal and down to the top o' Goldsmith's Row. And d'you know what I saw? A number 394 bus - oh yes I did! Then down along Columbia Road. It was only about 2.30 but the market was already winding down.

As I approached Bishopsgate I could deny it no longer: You could definitely sense the presence of the Broadgate Tower. By 'sense' I do of course mean 'see'. I couldn't smell it. Skyscrapers tend not to smell. If yours does you should probably put it down; kindest thing for the poor beggar. Don't put poor beggars down. I repeat - I do not advocate the putting down of poor beggars. Put down as many rich beggars as you like - bloody charlatans - but not the poor ones. Kindest thing you could do to them is buy them a bap. Or 'beigal' as they're known in these parts. Or in parts of these parts anyway.

Which brings me on to the subject of why shops put up signs warning that shoplifters will be prosecuted. Is that a sensible use of the anti-shoplifting budget???

I noticed a wedge of panelling - glass and some kind of shiny plastic - had been added to the bottom of the Tower. The diamond shaped struts which appear on the artist's impression are external, as opposed to a not dissimilar ribbed effect achieved using internal structures on the Gherkin. A close up view of one of the girders showed that it is indeed rust, and not fireproof paint, which makes them brown. At my sixth-form college the steel reinforced concrete used to bleed rust due to the cracks in the aging concrete allowing rain to seep in. Hideous. I imagine they've taken measures to avert that on the Tower.

Before I do the obilgatory side by side, then and now photographic comparison, one last observation. Which surprised me

The white panelling which was up in early December, which I judeg to be temporary, now looks like being a permanent fixture. The blue arrows, which I think are just a protective scratch proof sheet, are peeled off, and you then get something like this. Which is a turn up for the books!

Now here's a 3 photo montage, late October to mid January. As you can see I fucked up the angle again. Looks like I'm listing, like the Napoli (shameless attempt to grab search engine traffic there. But it's vaguely (very vaguely) relevant as I've mentioned containers before). This time I even made sure I transferred a copy of the relevant photos to my camera, but it wouldn't display them for some reason. I also forgot to take a photo from the other angle. Ah well.

broadgate towerBroadgate TowerBroadgate Tower 14/1/07

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Yes, things have been shaken up around here

I've been working on a new template on and off for about 2 weeks. If you've read this blog before, please let me know if you think it's an improvement.

The header took longest to make, but now I'm not sure I like it. It's a pretty cool effect (taken during the day, but dimmed considerably, and with contrast racked up) but just looks a bit shit.. Maybe I should colour in the sky light blue. Hmm.

Putting the menu on the left was something I was keen to do - how did the convention for putting menu on the right arise in the first place? I imagine maybe blogs started as being a set of pages within bigger sites, which would maybe already have a global navigation panel on the left.

I tried to go to Parliament Hill but the trains are bolloxed.

Now that I've made the blog wide enough to fit photos in snuggly here's an obligatory photo: sun shining on Bishopsgate buildings last weekend.
Bishopsgate buildings catching the sun

Full on assault on the Willis Builidng

The title has a double meaning. You'll see.

Willis building looking up
During December I explored the skyscraper forums a bit. I've decided to postpone contributing as I have written one or two posts taking the piss out of what gets written there. But looking on the forums did point out to me - like it needed pointing out - that the Willis building has more than one side. It should be noted that some buildings are just a facade: in Wrexham in the nineties they knocked down some buildings (which look like the Rows in Chester (but were, by all accounts, more authentic, the Chester variety being a mere Victorian replica of Tudor houses))... knocked them down, but kept just the facade for years. No idea why. Eventually knocked it down to make way for TK-Maxx. TK-Maxx have no need for timber frames - they're all about "famous brands and well known names, always up to 60% less than the high street" and superfluous consonants.

A song by Smog called "I feel like the mother of the world" has just started to play. It's quite beautiful. A thoughtful protest song with a great extended metaphor about children sharing a bath. I'll try uploading it during the course of writing, and will link to it if it happens in time.

Yes -I realised I hadn't explored all facets of the Willis Building so decided to carry out a full assault (#1) on the building. Here's my debrief report:

  • The approach was blocked by fierce resistance from the Lloyds Building. This resistance was not, however, unsurmountable. Thanks to modern digital technology no lives films were lost;
  • Were able to proceed onwards to Willis Building where evidence of continued (but limited) structural work consistent with development of a nuclear turd arms programme was found (see Fig. 1). Corporal Davies noted the nice lighting: recommend he be subjected to sexual reorientation treatment.

    Willis BuildingWillis Building 14/01/07
    Fig. 1

  • Corporal Edwards noted that the Gherkin was prettily lit too. Worries of homosexual tendencies allayed somewhat by his explaining that by 'prettily' he meant strange, because the lights in the bottom right don't flicker to the naked eye, but do when you make a video. This evidence of Willis technology being far superior to what was previously thought. May be only weks away from developing electronic calculator capabilities. Recommend Edwards for promotion and Khyber technologists medal.
  • Willis building appears to be gradually filled with strands of DNA. Difficult to believe, but by process of elimination have determined that it is the only explanation for this picture.
  • Major conclusion of the reconaissance is that attack from the East is far preferable to attack from the West, owing to corrugation completely obscuring line of sight to the East from within the building:
    Willis building showing windowsWillis building hiding windows

  • Evidence to suggest the building incorporates a launch pad for manned intercontinental ballistic missiles. Manned!!! These people are monsters.
  • Large, relatively low-rise circular building to rear could be a car park, a nuclear reactor or an iMax cinema. More likely it is a vat for boiling and torturing prisoners. One thing's for sure; we made a narrow escape. And it's got flatter corrugations, which all point anti-clockwise - for this reason line of attack should be limited to North East. That's two things for sure; lucky escape and flatter corrugation. Two things.
  • Blimey! they have a sophisticated propaganda machine which produces a defamatory newsletter called the limey.
  • Nearby buildings are clad in brown stuff to protect them from building work and radiation.
  • Architect's blueprints show the terrible vision for this facility. Reconnaisance photographs show that, thankfully, work is still some way off completion.
  • Ignore all preceding statements. Turns out they're one of us.
Request leave to climb Parliament Hill, Sah!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Broadgate and 201 Bishopsgate on the skyline

Quite a sabbatical it's been.

I couldn't upload photos until late on Monday, on Tuesday I was on a cooking course, on Wednesday I met Laura and went to see Last King of Scotland, on Thursday there was the excitement with the wind and the Trial of Tony Blair, and last night I went to the pub with Sharna and one drink turned into 3am.

So there are reasons for my absence.

Today I'm going to write/show that both Broadgate Tower and 201 Bishopsgate are pretty significant addition to the skyline, and yet scanadalously they get little or no media attention.

Pioneer skyscraperExhibit A: Broadgate is a pioneering building. I don't think I could make it any clearer than pointing out the words on the billboard in the photo on the right. Coinicidence? I think not.

Exhibit B: Not only does 201 Bishopsgate (the Ernie Wise of the partnership - i.e. short and always stifling a giggle) tower above buildings dating back to the days before steel frame construction, it is also already taller 201 Bishopsgate vs the streetthan all the other buildings on Bishopsgate, as demonstrated in the photo to the left. And it's not even finished - by my calculations it still has 2 storeys to go until it reaches the final 13.

They've been using girders which have big circles cut out of them to build, which must save money and weight... but have they considered the safety implications? EVERYBODY knows that triangles give structures the greatest stability, (particularly in the context of trusses). Mind you, circles, when packed together, do tend to arrange themselves in triangles. So maybe it's not so unwise.

I'll finish with an illustration of how fast work is moving. Only a month and a half between these photos, and I imagine work stopped over Christmas too.
201 Bishopsgate curve201 Bishopsgate 14/1/07

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


You may recall my contacting New London Architecture to point out that they don't know their arses from their elbows when it comes to putting the Willis Building in a model of London. I put it far more politely than that, but right now I feel I can hide my northern roots no longer and will talk in terms of arses and elbows as much as I like. It's my blog, and I'll anatomise if I want to.

Anyway, I got this reply today:


You are quite right - this is an oversight and will be put right when we next update the model.

Thanks for your help - central London is so complex its great to have this sort of thing brought to our attention.

Job well done!

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Broadgate tower and 201 Bishopsgate

... I thought it was convex, but now we're a bit closer I can see that it's actually concave

Man in the street, commenting on 201 Bishopsgate

Yes, readers - geeky skyscaper observation is the new craze sweeping the capital. And it's not surprising, what with Broadgate Tower being a not inconsiderate landmark these days. Later this week I will post a few photos exploring how it's making its mark (can't at the moment as we have a downlad/upload limit from 6pm to 11pm.) But the media don't seem to be enthusiastic about the tower. For instance, in last week's London Paper article it wasn't even mentioned, despite the fact that it will be the third tallest building in the city, and will be a gatepost to the city from the north. Like those two massive kings in Lord of the Rings.

Today I went prowling the city streets, but I wasn't twiddling my thumbs yesterday either. I went to the comically named Haunch of Venison gallery. It's so named because it's situated on Haunch of Venison Yard. But they now have a second branch in Zurich, where the name surely must be a source of much debate. But no fighting though: they're Swiss. They might have a competitive 'whittle-off' once in a while.

What was in the HoV was an exhibition of Patrick Tuttofuoco's work called Chindia. He's known for his "...utopian ideals; his interest in society, cities and community,' and 'collaboration is a natural part of Tuttofuoco's work.' Chindia was the result of his travels to 17 of the world's fastest growing cities (mostly in China and India.) The two most striking pieces were a mural which combined bits of both countries, and a video piece which didn't, although all the videos were playing in the same room. The video thing was good though; you often hear about the fact that India and China are emerging superpowers, but despite the fact that India seems to be grabbing handfuls of more developed industries (Call centres as opposed to manufacturing happy meal toys) watching the videos highlighted how much more developed China is, which is weird. Here's China(hard hats and skyscrapers), and here's India (bamboo scaffolding and cabbies). Think on.

Chinese skyscrapers are odd fellows. All modelled on the BT tower: tall thin body with a bulbous head. I say all, but I mean 2. I'm pretty sure they have more than 2.

As I'm typing this a song by Noel Coward has started playing on party shuffle. It's called 'Honeymoon scene - Some day I'll find you', and they've just talked about China and India. 'China's very big.' Perceptive as ever, that Mr. Coward.

China has playgrounds for adults which play the same role as our sanitised indoor gyms. These featured for a lond time in the videos. Best bit was a man in speedos, office shoes and socks jumping up and down as if he was skipping, but with no rope. He was a bit tubby and this all went on in a public park Brilliant! Good art is almost always funny. I couldn't video it as there were other people around, but this is almost as good. You can't see it very well, but it's a man and a woman using a man-powered skiing machine:

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Read all about it

The London paper - journalism so good they have to give it away - ran a big double spread feature on the london skyline of tomorrow today. Depending on whether you read the leftmost or the rightmost column of page 10 the Shard will be either 1,017 or 1,003 ft tall. Quality journalism. And:

London will never be Manhattan, but over the next 20 years the capital’s skyline is going to change dramatically and Canary Wharf and the City will definitely be giving New York a run for its money.
Unless she means "London will never be Manhattan" in a literal sense surely this is self-contradictory?

Talking of poor writing, I read the Guardian's eLearning supplement yesterday and it was atrocious. I've heard it called the Graudian in the past, and reading it yesterday made me think it may even once have had the name London Lite.

Back to the London paper. I would class its tone as muted celebration, which in London I think probably counts as whole-hearted cheers by anywhere else's standards. I've just come back from Poole where the people are nicer and more chatty. Although a shoplifter alarm did go off as I walked in to Tesco's, which I thought was overly suspicious of outsiders. Bloody Tesco's - you'd never get that in Waitrose.

Interesting facts the article contained were an explanation of the cheese grater's unusual shape: It makes it easier to grate the moon, and the sloping side means the view of St Paul's isn't obscured.

It also had a few artist's impressions of the Walkie Talkie. Not pleasant... but luckily it's being halted by the otherwise disappointing Ruth Kelly.

There's a video (doesn't work in Firefox though) interviewing the exhibition director of New London Architecture about skyscrapers as he gives the interviewer a tour of their model (which is missing the Willis Building! But don't worry; I have notified them). The interviewer has just, cynically but quite correctly, accused the buildings of trying to "out-wow" each other. I missed the reply as I was typing.

He gives an astute appraisal of the current vogue for nicknaming new building projects, which began with the gherkin. Come to think of it "wedge of cheese" would be a btter name for the "cheese grater".

Yes - what about the shard of glass, hmmm??? It's not in the cluster, is it Mr Murray?

Ah, no - but it is next to a train station. It's all part of Ken's strategy. Oh yes it is.

Watch the video!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Skyscraper forum again

Today I finally received my password sorty-outy stuff from the skyscrapercity forum, and have accordingly repaid the favour by adding it to my links.

They use the word cladding an awful lot. From

clad2 [klad] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation –verb (used with object), clad, clad·ding. to bond a metal to (another metal), esp. to provide with a protective coat.

I'm not sure this is the primary purpose for skyscrapers being glazed, but I might be wrong about that.

It's probably bad form, not to mention unwise, to mock a forum you're about to join. So I shall stop.

Sticking to the theme of missuse of the English language, there are a few people at work who overuse "in terms of"; "In terms of how much time it will take, I'd say about 2 days." Or how about just saying "It'll take about 2 days." Nnnggg!!!

Anyway, I was ranting about this to Sharna and Mike and grew concerned that I might be a hypocrite, so I did a search through all my old emails and discovered only 1 use of the phrase by me (and that was a technical use in an email about number theory). Felt quite smug.

This photo's quite old, but it fits in with the decrepitude that a couple of days' bad cold and winter rain brings.

disintegrating buildings

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