Dulltown, Europe: Today’s task is to learn to appreciate line dancing.
Hey you!… You architects… Can it be so difficult? Can it be so hard, to make the outsides of your buildings a bit easy on the eye, and to possibly make them a bit more interesting?
Yes, dear reader, I know I have ranted on about this before. I have mentioned that old, now well-worn, concept from the early 20th c. that now seems to be, I was about to say ‘set in stone’, but I think ‘set in rough concrete’ would be more appropriate, the idea that ‘form follows function’. (FFF)
But I do understand why this idea is so popular, it makes buildings a lot quicker and cheaper to throw up, and you don’t need to do any sweating over the visual or aesthetic side of things.
The other day I was walking up Ferensway here in Dulltown and glanced across at the Hull Truck Theatre building. It was opened in 2009 and cost about 14 million pounds – phew!… You would think that because the function of the place might fall into the category of ‘the arts’ they might have given a bit of thought to the the exterior look of the place. But no, it looks like a box quickly knocked up with a pencil and a school ruler, the outer surface divided fairly equally between drab-looking brick and glass.
I was walking along imagining listening in at one of the meetings between the architects, the people paying for the thing, and the people who would eventually be working in there; there would probably be some nice coloured drawings and perhaps a scale model on the table, oh, and maybe a glass or two of wine to lubricate the proceedings:
‘So, there it is! What do you guys think?’ (this architect has no aesthetic sense)
‘Well, it looks very smart… there are plenty of… large windows…’ (this money person has no aesthetic sense)
‘Yes, the passer-by can see through the glazed apertures to the bar, the side of the steel staircase, and glimpse the inside of the lift shaft. There will of course be plenty of space to put your posters up on them too…’
‘The bricks look nice, and grey… very solid-looking!…’ (this administrator has no aesthetic sense)
‘It’s very, modernistic! I like it!…’ (this drama person has no aesthetic sense)
‘That’s super everyone! I was confident that you’d all be very impressed with our design…’
‘Excuse me, hope you don’t mind me asking… but what’s that grey galvanised steel framework sticking out, at an angle, on the top right-hand side?’
‘Ah, yes – the piece de resistance! It will have some fluorescent tubes attached which will alternate and flash in different colours, and attract the eye, in the night, to make people notice, and to draw them in to the building. It will look marvellous against the night sky…’
‘And what about in the daytime, when it’s light?’
‘Well of course it won’t be switched on the daytime.’
‘Won’t the metal framework, look…er… a bit… funny… up there on the top, sticking out…?’
‘Not at all. It’s supposed to be industrial, you see… Hull Truck… industrial… it’s ironic… it’s iron… get it?…’
‘Oh, that’s so subtle… How very clever!… and there’s me thinking it would look, a bit… er… ugly…’
‘No no, not at all, you must realise that people walking along in the street never look up at things – they’ll only spot it at night when it’s working away flashing its colours…’
‘Well, I think it’s marvellous, and this fine building will be an asset to this great city! I can’t wait to attract some more funding, and get busy hiring in some plays to put on…’