Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Willis building update

Cheap and cheerful one this, going, as it does, as follows:

Willis BuildingWillis Building 14/01/07Willis building

Yes, there's slightly more glass, and no, the light isn't as pretty as last time.

I am - through no fault of my own I might add - currently listening to a terrible Placebo song which goes:

Came to this world by caesarean section...
...Now it takes him all day just to get an erection
Who would've thought such things could be related!

Man, it's a boring song. Still playing 6 minutes on. I will press skip. Now it's Bedside Table by Bedhead - altogether better musical fare.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Dirty Erotic Gherkin on verge of breakdown

PeabodySay hello to Mr. Peabody. he was big in the 1800's. It's quite rare these days for the top result in Google for a historical figure or place to not be wikipedia, but good old George manages it. That would be an interesting exercise, come to think of it; working out the average ranking of wikipedia for all things which you'd expect to have an encyclopaedia entry.

I took this photo the day after his 212th birthday. I noted the occasion by stroking his foot. I would've patted him on the back or given him a playful light-hearted punch, but I could only reach his foot. Patricia, who worked for the Peabody Trust when I worked at LSBU does his philanthropical nature proud. I think the persistance of the organisation's having likeable staff is probably testament to his stern yet even-handed guidance back in the early days.

Man , I talk such drivel sometimes. How can I possibly justify wasting my and your time with that nonsense. I'd go back and delete it only that would mean devoting even more time to those ill-fated paragraphs. JesusMaryHolyMotherofGod!

Leadenhall Tower artist's impressionLedenhall Tower demolition siteThe Peabody statue is in The City, not too far from the building to the right, which will soon be making way for the Leadenhall Building, aka the Cheese Grater (far right). You'll notice two things:

  1. A bit of the newsletter (they have a construction of the Leadenhall Building newsletter!) is flared out: "From the period January to March 2007 we will start to decommission the building, draining down the systems, disconnecting electrical supplies..." I have marked in red those bits I'm unsure about
  2. "Should you have any queries or concerns please call 020 7553 5950 and ask for Julian Bates or Cliff Wynn who will be pleased to assist"
I'm glad they'll be pleased to assist as I really would like to confirm that I've guessed the missing bits of the newsletter correctly. I'd also like to subscribe to the newsletter if possible.

Gherkin showing spiral of light sinsideAs Matt pointed out, the building they're knocking down isn't all that bad. You could say people have had it too good these past few years, what with the Gherkin and its strip-lights spiralling upwards like stairs in Top of the Pops in the 80's.

But even the Gherkin isn't invincible to the architectural ageing process:

Gherkin with grimeDIRTY EROTIC GHERKIN
In these shocking images we can EXCLUSIVELY reveal that the Gherkin has the skyscraper equivalent of cellulite. Yes - it's grime. It's a dirty word, for a dirty thing. And it's got it. It's got grime, alright. No mistaking, that's grime.

We asked for an interview but the gherkin declined to confirm whether or not the lapse in personal hygiene was caused by its very public split with Swiss Re earlier this month.
kitchen utensilsThis photo didn't work - blurry blurry - but I liked the very small house with country cottage utensils in the shadow of St Mary's Axe.

And one final thing - here's a beautiful song by the Handsome Family I haven't listened to in ages. How about this for a beautifully sad lyric:

"I saw a deer limp across
A supermarket parking lot"

Poor deer. Poor Gherkin.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Big graffiti on big buildings

Londonist truly is a great blog. They've just highlighted this, a laser which writes graffiti onto buildings as you write in the air with a special pen. The video gets interesting about 30 seconds in. Suffice to say: "I want one!"

It reminds me of this thing.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Millbank Tower and MI6 security

St. George WharfChintz is how today's post will start. I'll set the tone by mentioning that a shop down the road from me does massages for babies (I wonder if they finish them off?). This website is a mucho classy advert for the expensive pieces of real estate at St George Wharf (the horrible thing to the left of this paragraph. 'Horrible' puts it a bit strongly as the tiered effect is pleasing to the eye, but the colour and the space age penthouse roofs are like a deranged chess-set let loose on the horizon.)

Last night we went to a new pub across the river from work for Katie's welcome drinks. Disappointing turn out, but an upstairs bar worth visiting; decked out and lit like a ballroom. I left at about 10.30 and took my time walking back to Pimlico tube along the river and across Vauxhall Bridge.

It was then that I had my first brush with the authorities in the course of pursuing the truth behind London planning.


When taking these photos of the MI6 building I was approached by a security guard who asked what I was taking photos of, and why. I simply gave him the honest answer that I write a website documenting changes to the Lonodn skyline, and he seemed happy enough. A more rigourously trained security guard might have questioned me as to what changes to the skyline I had in mind with my ruthless, bomb-laden Terrorist mind (should "Bin Laden" change his name to "Bomb Laden"... for the sake of clarity?), but he was a trusting old soul.
Purple building next to MI6
Purple building next to MI6
I went a bit mad on the whole photographing brightly lit buildings thing. By the end of the walk I was even resorting to photographing dimly lit buildings. Next I'll be cutting the photos with rat poison and Heroin.

So that this post isn't a complete ramble (Like last night's drunken Icke-fest) I will talk a bit about Millbank Tower, where I work. It's much maligned; it's Andrew Marr's least favourite building (but he is a git, so don't take too much notice of what he says). People at work also tend to think it's ugly, but I'm not convinced.

The shape of the building is great, I feel. I've been looking for pictures on the web to illustrate, but no joy. I will have to use words instead: The tower's floorplan is the same shape as a squashed Chewitt. If you squeeze two opposite sides then the other two sides bulge outwards. Every time I notice the Tower's shape I think of squashed chewitts and I wonder if something along these lines was the inspiration for the architects.

Overexposed Millbank TowerThe glazing is admittedly drab and depressing, but that can easily be fixed, as they're doing with the old London Stock Exchange

Here's a few Millbank facts I've gleaned:
  • The Labour Party, contrary to popular perception, never occupied any space in the tower itself; the party rented two floors of the base at the south of the site.
  • The Conservatives now plan to move in (I'm already planning how I can subtly piss David Cameron off in the lift.)
  • The BBC ran an obituary when Labour left millbank, even though the'd only been there about 4 years!
  • The tower inspires people to take photos with the camera held at strange angles. One photo inspred this comment: "I really regret not buying that bag when I saw it yonkage ago!" Quite!
  • The arials and dishes on top of the Tower appeared in the "guesswhereLondon" Flickr challenge thing.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Upper Thames-side photos

Channel 5 is great. In the last 5 minutes I have heard the following two phrases:

Build the Bismarck
My mother is alive because she cannot be anything that is not alive because she is infinite consciousness that cannot be destroyed
The second is due to David Icke, consipracy idiot extraordinaire. I've solved the "should I link to explain who he is, thus boosting his Google ranking" dilemma by quoting the top result for "David Icke is an idiot" on a site which isn't weird and linking to the top result for "David Icke Wrong":
David Icke is an idiot. He genuinely believes in this annunaki crap. It's funny how these people all think George Dubya is a reptilian, when, with all due respect, he is quite the idiot. You would think evil aliens controlling the world are a bit more intelligent than him.
Fecking hell - he's now on the Llangollen railway. STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM MY HOME!!!! "He knows his stuff... he knows his stuff..." But what stuff, Mr. gormless spectator at his Brixton Academy gig???
Only when we know who we are can we know our own freedom
I'm not taking the Richard Farley tack of accusing him of trying to pull the wool over everyone's eyes. I just think he's a fecking idiot.

Icke lacks the finely honed analytical skills required to discriminate between credible and delusional sources
Glad to see Chanel 5 also still does dodgy late night chat dating girls in your area lines.

I suppose you want a photo, do you?
Millbank Tower and Bell
I work here

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


  1. It's also the lowest lying London skyline feature I've photographed. ... London skyline (13) Blogging (12) Broadgate Tower (11) Willis Building (7) ...
    londonskyline.blogspot.com/index.html - 78k - Cached - More pages from this site
And there was me thinking Yahoo! was an inferior search engine.

Trumpets, lifts, scripts and pustules (the title they wanted to use for the John Candy & Steve Martin film, but weren't allowed to)

I found a copy of the Philadelphia Trumpet on the train today. I quote the opening line of the editorial:

Last November's midterm elections marked a disaster in American history
Couldn't've put it better myself.

Other thoughts on my journey to Wolverhampton included "how would you get off at the right floor using the double decker lifts?" I reasoned that one level must be allocated to odd floors, he other to evens, with two ramps to split the clientele (only one 'l' - how surprising!) between those starting on the ground floor (0) and lower ground floor (-1) respectively. I bet that's how.

I've just written my first ever php script. Given a starting number n, it tells you whether the sequence (n *2.2) decreases for ever, and if it doesn't it lists the results up until you get to above 1440. This script will, I think you'll agree, revolutionise the way we lead our lives.

As I and my tired eyes can't be doing with sending yet more photos flickr-wards, here's a swift photo comparison for the Broadgate Tower through the ages. Why oh why can't I ever get the angle the same each time?!?! Photos 1 and 3 are fairly similar though, and demonstrate a lot of growth. You can also see the increase in glazing since last time, with work started on the back of 201 Bisho9psgate as well as the tower. Also note the yellow planks to be walked. There are a number of them springing out of the Tower like pustules. There's a number to call, but I'll leave that for later this week.
Broadgate TowerBroadgate Tower 14/1/07Broadgate Tower 17/2/2007

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Considerate constructors

Broadgate Tower buttressesBroadgate Tower (High contrast)I hate it when disappointing lighting makes for a dull photo. So I did this, which I like. The whole point of taking the photo was to capture the struts being reflected in the glass, which now extends 3-4 storeys up the tower.

We were talking about the fact that when the buildings are finished these struts will cover a... well, a covered area, which they are calling a galleria. Turns out galleria means the following: "a spacious passageway, court, or indoor mall, usually with a vaulted roof and lined with commercial establishments." according to Dictionary.com. So no incorrect uses of the English language there, then.

Liverpool Street Station roofI mentioned in a much earlier post that trains from Liverpool Street pass directly below the Tower. If your train crashed beneath the tower you'd be well annoyed if you survived the crash, only to be crushed by a 35 Storeys toppling in on you. Giles pointed out that the struts were probably there to distribute the weight of the tower away from straight down to the tracks, similar to how Exchange House uses an arch to distribute weight to the sides:Exchange House

Turns out the truth is a little more complicated. Skyscrapernews tells me that the tower is:

  • ...built on a raft weighing 6,000 tonnes over the rail tracks that run above it to Liverpool Street Station. This means there is a requirement to distribute the weight of the tower, and hence no concrete core.

  • The a-frames that express the structure are one of the by-products of the lack of a central core with the outside of the building providing structural strength, clearly shown off in front of the glass and steel cladding.
I'm a bit worried about the plan to run the rail tracks above the Tower. Let's just hope it's an ambiguous use of language. "The captain watched the boy with the telescope" springs to mind.

Also of note is that it will feature "the first double decker lifts to be used in the U.K."

That should put paid to any doubts about fitting enough lifts into the tower, but perhaps does confirm that the Tower will be too narrow for normal lifts to satisfy internal transportation needs without swallowing up all the floorspace.

They truly are most considerate constructors

Considerate constructors

Monday, February 19, 2007


This is one thing we did yesterday.

Planes flying in to land at City Airport were flying surprisingly low. Even taking into account the fact they were landing.

Result was this film. I've tagged it as "Gay & Lesbian", "Mature & Adult" and "Western" in Google Video. I think a lot of people are going to be underwhelmed. You can hear Matt saying "It might just be a lift"... which isn't a comment on the low flying, but more on the fact that there were several false alarms - buses, cars... lifts - before the real deal. Matt's saying "It might just be a lift..." I think will be the nadir of their viewing experience.

The title, by the way, is a reference to Team America, which has the best comic vomitting ever committed to camera. Apart from that one time Fat Pete threw up in Rhyl and Ginger Pete captured the moment of hurling on his camera. Oh, how we loathed his greasy scalp.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A tale of two potatoes

The night before - top song!

So that's what I'm listening to right now, waiting for my pizza to cook and looking back on the day.

Now it's Do it now by Mos Def. Once again, party shuffle picks a winner.

Feck! Paper cut.

Potato number one is a delightful thing which I see every now and then on the 55 bus route. Somebody paints potatoes, sticks cocktail sticks, cotton bud sticks and pencils in them, and throws them on top of bus shelters. Both Londonist and Dave Gorman (the photo's his as the bus moved off too quickly for me to take one.) are fans too, and I saw them regularly on my way back from lectures at Birkbeck when I did that sort of thing.

I think I might be in love with whoever puts them up there. I'm pretty sure she's Japanese. And I'm also pretty sure she's a she. If not, I shall have to carefully consider my lifestyle choices. Start snorting poppers... anal sex... that sort of thing. Maybe some crystal meth (listen).

Potato number two should really be potato number one. And it's also really a pheasant. Allow me to explain:

Matt and Giles and Broadgate TowerToday I went on a skyscraper hunt, and for the first time I had company. Earlier this week Matt asked me if I was around to meet up* for a drink this weekend. I suggested he join me on a skyscraper sojourn, and I was surprised to get a text yesterday to say he was coming down to join me on my quest.

So I met him at Liverpool Street, and Giles, his old school friend, came too. I won't say too much about the expedition tonight, other than that I think I should make a habit of inviting people along. Possibly not every time, but certainly once in a while. Two heads are better than one.

Anyway, eventually we ended up heading up the west end, partially to see if we could catch the Chinese New Year bash, and partially to find a pub. Most pubs were surprisingly closed. Eventually found one called the Hand and Racquet, which I shall definitely revisit. It's ideally suited for chess tournaments, being as it has lots of two person alcoves. Friendly bar staff.

For extra entertainment, watch the car park over the road. Its amazing how many idiots can't manouvre themselves in or out of there without making a right balls up.

Giles told a very funny story which I shall recount:

He saw a family of tourists race to catch a bus... one of the old routemasters. The father and boy climbed on, but the wife and girl lagged behind, which was just as well as it was the wrong route. The wife shouted for them to jump off, just as the bus started to move off. The boy leapt off as it reached about 10 mph, narrowly avoiding falling over. No doubt coyed by this near miss, the father hesitated. As the wife kept on shouting/gesturing at him to disembark he eventually - now that the bus was doing closer to 30 - decided to halt his journey. But instead of jumping, or trying to hit the ground running, he literally stepped off the bus and got whipped head over heels onto the pavement.


That's what came out of my mouth - very loudly - at the outdoor tables outside Cafe Nero on the Strand.


He does tell a good anecdote, does Giles.

Later on that evening I tried nodding at passers by as they passed the pub window, with little to no response.

And the potato/pheasant??? I was going to cook a roast when I got in, but reckoned without the pub and coffee and anecdotes. Hence pizza.

Once, possibly on Room 101, Stephen Fry questioned the use of the phrase "meet up", pointing out that you could substitute "meet" in its place, and that the "up" is superfluous. This, I feel, is one of the few occasions when Stephen Fry has been wrong. Meeting can be random, coincidence. Meeting up has to be planned. That is all.

Subscribing to blogs and websites/RSS explained


I was going to find a good website to link out to for this, but thought I'd give it a shot at writing it myself.

The thing is that subscribing to Blogs is a good thing. Some would say it's a great thing, but not that many people know how to do it, or what it is exactly. I will try to explain for the benefit of anyone who sees the "subscribe" button on the left and doesn't know what the whole shebang means.

I'll try a newspaper analogy.

Imagine the whole internet is a newspaper. There'll probably be a few writers (bloggers) whose columns (blogs) you particularly enjoy. In an ideal world you'd be able to pay somebody to cut them out of the paper and paste them onto a piece of card so you don't have to search for new articles amongst the rest of the paper... particularly frustrating if it's an occasional column which doesn't appear every day.

This is exactly what feed-readers do. Once you've subscribed to a blog, or other regularly updated site, it cuts new articles on that blog out, and pastes them into your own individual web-page for your convenience. Feed readers do this by seeking out a file called an RSS file, which is essentially an index of articles on a blog.

There are a number of sites on the web that enable you to subscribe to blogs, and that generate a webpage of articles from the blogs you subscribe to. Two of the most popular are Google Reader and Bloglines. The process for signing up to either of these is slightly different, and I won't bother explaining it. But once you've subscribed to one, every time you come across a blog you'd like to be included in your subscriptions page, just look for and click on the RSS icon: . Content from that blog will, from then on, appear on your subscriptions page automatically.

Y'know, you could always click on the one in the top left of this page if you like.

No pressure.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Parliament hill

The trains were not bolloxed today, so I did go up parliament hill. On Hampstead Heath everyone dresses like extras from Lovejoy (lets not forget that Lovejoy was the lone ruffian amongst the well-to-do country antique folk).Y'know those new rugged all-terrain prams... well, I saw two parents carrying theirs over some fairly tame mud. I walked past Juliet Stevenson. It's a fairly prissy area of London, this we can gather.

Here's a couple of illuminating episodes highlighting that Hampstead and Hackney are different:

  • A dog fetched a ball, and obligingly dropped it when its owner said "drop"
  • A youth was walking his dog. The dog started to wonder off and he called after it "Yo!" He was resolutely ignored.
Not much to report skyscraper-wise. Bit too hazy for photography. I could, I suppose, draw some dodgy parallels between kite-flying and skyscraper building... man's insatiable need to reach up to the gods in the heavens. But that would be laughable.

Someone on the skyscraper forums once commented on how narrow Broadgate Tower is, and how it may be uneconomical to build as half the floor-space will be taken up by lifts. Leaving aside for a moment the fact that the number of lifts is proportional to the number of people, which is in turn proportional to the floorspace (so less floorspace means fewer lifts), and that I'm sure the investors did consider this issue... But the tower is actually very wide, only the difference between depth and width is about 3:1. Don't have a photo to demonstrate, but in one direction it is significantly wider than the Gherkin and Tower 42. So I think it will have office space galore, without the curved walls problem of the Gherkin.
For an interior designer, the Gherkin's floor plates are euphemistically known as a "challenge."
There must be some mathematical theories determining the optimal number of lifts. I imagine it increases at a rate greater than linearly as the number of floors increases. There is actually a well-known paradox called the elevator paradox which is quite interesting.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Joining the mile-high club

No - not that one!

The one of cities, not people, which have buildings that tall. The club is very exclusive, with a current membership of none, but today I read in londonist and skyscrapernews that an architecture firm has proposed building self-contained (in which case, why not build them in the countryside? Or Norwich?) tower communities in London.

Skyscrapernews gives the plan short-thrift, quite rightly pointing out that building towers so high is against civil aviation authority rules... quite apart from being just plain silly. Probably a PR stunt they say. I agree.

The tower featured in this post is a different one, called the Green Bird, in the zoomorphic style, which is also thankfully probably a joke. Although it is probably also a member of the mile-high club in a sense which I can hardly begin to imagine.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Light up London

City skyline at night, overexpsed
Tower 42Last week - Thursday I think - I read in the Metro, or London Paper (but not the London Lite - give me some credit!) that some people have been busy installing lightbulbs all along the Pool of London.

Looking at this photo you'd think that they overdid it a bit, what with the buildings looking like they're mid-extermination. The more astute among you will of course know all about apertures and shutter speeds and tripods and that and will be insulted in the intelligence by my explaining that it's overexposed. On purpose.

The night (Sunday) was one of those times when - like when you go to Ayers Rock, or the Eiffel Tower, or Wrexham police station - ... when everyone is stood around taking the same photo. Exactly the same photo. There were hundreds of photographers armed with tripods out living it up with film. Given that I've mentioned my trusty tripod (long gone are the days when you could say 'pod' and only face confusion with peas rather than mp3 payers too) a few times, here's a picture. Cheekily, the camera is not too scale. Manipulative bastards.

Laura on a benchMillions of photographers there wuz. All taking the same photos. It reminded me of my birdwatching days. You'd have a row of people with telescopes staring out to sea looking for a shearwater (which reminds me of the most boring blog Ive ever come across ... Nope - can't find it. Fitting that it's so dull as it was a pioneer of blogging - read it about 3 years ago). It was like that. But with cameras and lightbulbs. The only person who wasn't taking photos was Laura, who had a lie down on a bench.

The thing is that, in these modern times of Flickr and photobook and freely available pornographic images, is there really any need to photograph your own testicles experiences anymore?

So I decided to deliberately overexpose everything (no mean feat in the dark), just so as to avoid being an online clutterance (new word - TM R.Evans 2007). I will be an online varietal!

I hate blogs which contain billions of photos in one tall meaningless column, so here's some thumbnails followed by the best of the bunch. It's also the lowest lying London skyline feature I've photographed.
Illuminated London bridgeIlluminated Mayor's officeMore Lonon electric treeGherkin at night
Overexposed HMS Belfast

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I have things to say

But after an evening of reinstalling windows (after a complete balls-up trying to install php), and a half hour uploading photos to flickr I can't be bothered to write it down yet. It's five to twelve! (By the way, in case you were wondering, while I typed that I had in mind the voice of the striker in the all-priest over 80 indoor five aside football challenge match in Father Ted when he says "I'm very tired; I'm 85!").

But this bulletin just to re-re-report... repeat, I suppose... the sad news that as more and more buildings go up the quantity theory of architecture seems to be coming into force, with a building on Commercial Road collapsing. I vaguely know someone who lives on Commercial road in a 4-ish storey building that looks a bit rickety. Hope it's not him.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Diamond number 2

P1000972See that diamond shape perched on top of another diamond shape up the side of Broadgate Tower; that means it's two thirds complete height-wise.

Taking this photo was no easy job. I've only got a mini tripod which I had to clasp against a lamp-post. Was quite surprised at how successfully I managed to avoid camera shake. I came across this new view of the Tower - my new favourite angle for photos - on Friday night whilst walking to the Ten Bells.

Half-planned to go and take some snowy pictures today. Tube was flumoxed by the weather once again and so I decided to work from home. Discovered it was boring and this, combined with advanced email taunting by non-absent colleagues (and the desire to win a tiny victory over Lisa for being such a bitch last night by going out after she'd gone to get me money so I could pay the phone bill post-haste.) meant I decided to go in once the tube was well again. In the end I had no time to stop off at Liverpool street on the way.

To make matters worse the snow had melted all around work, so no chance of a snowball fight. Michael did however point out that not many people can say Big Ben is their office clock. It depends if you consider all the people on one side of Millbank Tower to be "not many" I suppose, but I like the observation.

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