Monday, 22 September 2008

The Dreaming Spirals of Oxford (and other scandals)

Oxford used to be known for this

It will shortly be known for this - the Softbrain Softbridge Middle East Centre

Yes, the best preserved Victorian suburb in England has been chosen in which to erect this abortion seamless brave but insensitive new architectural narrative.

In a sneaky deft move, Oxford University has chosen the world's most iconic woman architect Zaha Hadid, who just happens to be muslim so that Oxford City Council daredn't reject the planning application for fear of looking backwards-thinking or worse, was obliged to take their hat off to OU for this daring international design coup showing just how forward-thinking and cosmopolitan Oxford is - a coup which is excitingly anticipated to put our little backwater of Oxford on the map.

Thousands of both public and University users will be welcome in the massive 125-seat lecture theatre with only three days rigorous security checks to undergo to prove they belong to the University and can demonstrate a genuine thesis in Middle Eastern Studies.

A spokesman for Oxford City Council said 'For far too long Oxford has languished forgotten in the shadow of Canary Wharf unable to compete and desperately short of underutilised lecture theatres and libraries.' He refused to confirm that Saudi money is backing the project before hopping into his gold plated, bullet-proof SUV vehicle and speeding off.

To think Oxford denizens ever complained about this cutie landing on a terrace in the less-upmarket suburb of Headington twenty years ago.

In a separate scandal initiative, (not to mention in a falling housing market), Oxford City Council is planning to rob 530 hectares of designated Green Belt land from South Oxfordshire District Council outside the city borders to the South to build up to 12,000 new houses on an area which aside from being legally designated 'green belt land' is an area of scientific interest and bang next to a Sewage Farm. Let's hope some sue-age of another kind ensues, as if this goes through it will set a potentially disastrous precedent for the protection and future of green belt land around all our cities and towns up and down the country. I for one shall keep painting the frogs purple with silver spots to beef up the 'area of scientific interest' protection. Spraycan anyone?

*For those readers not in the UK, 'greenbelt land' is the protected/undeveloped belt of land around each British city and town which was intended to offer a 'green lung' to these conurbations in addition to ensuring that the urban sprawl did not spiral out of control to ruin the character and shape of the countryside or the communities they were intended to protect.


moi said...

Oh, dear. That's just about the fugliest piece of "architecture" I've ever seen. You go with your spray cans, girl. 'bout time we humanators start building up, and not out. Viva la Revolucion!

Rol said...

That's truly horrendous, you have might deepest sympathy.

The sad thing is, a building like that would be an improvement in Bradford City Centre. Hell, any building would be an improvement in Bradford City Centre.

Lucy Fishwife said...

FANTASTIC. It looks like the brick building's wearing a gigantic hearing aid. Has she explained what her "vision" behind it was? I used to like the legs on Not The Moulin Rouge and the big hands on the Penultimate Picture Palace... weren't they the same guy who did the shark?

KAZ said...

Love the post Laura.
I mean what's Oxford for if not Dreaming Spires?
Inspector Morse would turn in his grave.

garfer said...

Looks like a water slide to me. The hooray Henrys should have fun with that come the May Ball.

Fatwahs shall be issued.

Prof. Plotznheimer said...

That's progress for ya?

I'm so terribly sorry that the tall foreheads have decided to emulate the North American model which basically sets forth to suburbanize the entire continent.

"Pave Paradise and put up a parking lot..

NYD said...

I live in the land where horrible modern architecture is fairly common and that fugly abomination would stand out even here.

The Troll said...

Well-written post. Wouldn't surprise me if muslib saudis are financing it. They have awful taste.

Oliver said...

Sounds like the local authorities in the City of Dreaming Spires are up to their old tricks.

I fondly remember when the protest horses pooed on the steps of Oxfordshire County Council.

Maybe they could be brought out of retirement to do the honours on Oxford Shitty Council's HQ. For some reason, it sounds quite appropriate!

Steve said...

The "Softbridge Middle East Centre" looks like a huge hoover attachment. I feel a joke coming... something about vacuums...

Brother Tobias said...

Hoover attachment is spot on. Or a simulator of some kind. The kind of thing you find in shopping centres which will jiggle you about for 60p. (Yes, I did mean 'simulator') So much for local idiom.

Wisewebwoman said...

Good Maude, Laura, this is a phallus extremis. I think the architect needs some Freudian analysis. Pronto.
As to the green belt desecration, it is called Progress, I would ask progress to where. No wonder us citizens are all stressed out. We are living in tubs of soulless concrete.

Doughboy said...

A nice bit of modernism? better than a prince charle's sponsored slab of retro gothic i'd have thought.

I'm not sure you're meant to like it, in the same way that you're not meant to enjoy a piece of art - just react to it. and see in this case how the space around the new 'thing' looks in comparison. it might be quite interesting. but even if you hate it, it's something to react against. has to be better than another drone like shopping centre, surely?

the architect in question has done a lot of work in spain and europa where they like a bit of this modern stuff. they did a similar thing new next to old at the Louvre. works quite well i think.

this thing looks a bit like a wind tunnel or an Ikea lampshade. i'm all for it.

Reluctant Blogger said...

It looks like a bit that fell off an aeroplane to me. Kind of appropriate I suppose.

I always think that if things really have to be ugly then they have to compensate for that by being really useful instead. Can't see that this is going to be particularly useful.

Tell me one thing, Laura. How do you do that crossing through words?

The Sagittarian said...

Good grief this problem is global, darling! We have an upside down THING in our square...officially called the Chalice but looks leaky to me...and now we have a huge sheaf of wheat made of aluminium (or whatever looks like that) in our quaint mall...where they ripped out a very old fountain and ancient tiles that were very picturesque. Go figure. We need to Unite the Global Spray Can Response!!

Can Bass 1 said...

If you think that's bad, you should see our new song-school. Just about bankrupted the damned cathedral, too.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Moi, with people power we can probably do anything!

Oh dear Rol - poor Bradford City Centre - and once such a proud centre of Victorian commerce back in the day Britannia ruled the waves. PS You can have our white plastic snail though if it really is that bad!

LucyFishWife - a large ear-trumpet...? Hmm. Do you think Ms Hadid's preparing for an alien invasion and is surreptitiously designing buildings for the forthcoming mother ship to recognise landing areas?

Kaz - I'm sure Inspector Morse is spinning in his grave at a rate of revolutions.

Prof Plotznheimer - you are a professor - perhaps you could elucidate on this madness to trample the best of our past rather than finding a genuinely brown-field site in context of other hideous, (er sorry), modern architecture to go with it.

Nyd - That is depressing indeed - I always thought Britain was particularly bad at bulldozing its past best, but it sounds like an international free-for-all (I shouldn't say architectural w***king competition between modern architects) these days.

The Troll - indeed. Dubai is said to be at least as tacky as the worst that Las Vegas has to offer. Or best, depening on your point of view.

Oliver, those horses sound like they have better judgement than most humans - how're their autocad skills? Or perhaps a specially adapted drawing board might suffice. 'Oxford Shitty Council'- nail on head!

A 'vacuum' is darned apt analogy of this monstrosity in a nutshell Steve!

BT - I will ask if you can jiggle about in it for 60p when it's open. Though as I said to Lucy, I think it might be landing stage for a mother ship.

WWW - and the worst of it is Ms Hadid hasn't even got a cock, so why would she need to erect any sort of sexual edifice to it?

Doughboy - I shall arrange to have it delivered to your back yard forthwith, so you'd better not be a NIMBY, old bean.

RB - Aeroplane wreckage was my first thought when I saw the artists' impression, and are air crash tragedies really something to be celebrated? You've hit on one of my utter passions about the functionality/beauty thing as I wholly believe in having our cake and eating it re making everything both ultra beautiful as well as wholly functional buildingwise, and do not subscribe to the either/or argument. And whatever the arguments I know from my professional dealings that an ugly building costs every bit as outrageous a sum to construct as something nice.

HTML for strikethrough is

Christchurch Sagittarian! - is that why it's known as 'Down Under'? Though your bit is down under down under isn't it? At least you've got the wonderful scenery elsewhere to make up I guess. But an architectural crime is an architectural crime and I wouldn't wish hideous architecture on anyone.

Can Bass 1 - I do sympathise - I'm sure beautiful surroundings help inspire beautiful singing, even if the central heating is better in the carbuncle. Bad ecclesiastical architecture is hardly a compliment to the big G though.

Reluctant Blogger said...

Thanks for the info on the strike through. I may well use that one day.

I guess everyone has a different idea of what is or isn't attractive architecturally. Although it is hard to imagine that anyone would find this particular offering beautiful (not me - I mean the building).

My grammar is so bad these days.