Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Architecture’

Wellington Civic Square, by night

Public spaces like this – which are beautiful both by day, and night, should be encouraged, in our increasingly urbanised planet.

Wellington civic square, by night

A pretty place to be, I think you will agree. Recently, I learnt that the square was designed by visionary Wellington architect Ian Athfield, whose brilliant and sometimes odd work scatters the city (seek, and you shall find Athfield creations in Wellington’s many corners!), enriching the urban landscape. I don’t think I will ever tire of the eclectic mish-mash of buildings, old and new, which shouldn’t work together but somehow do, interesting public art, patches of soft green space, around a fully accessible multi-level square, crowned by Neil Dawson’s wonderful sculpture, Ferns. I love to spot Ferns’ shadow, at different times of the day as it dances around the space. Whether I am passing through en route home, or sitting leisurely on a bench in the sun (or, let’s face it, wind!), Wellington’s Civic Square is a fitting heart to the city which I am thankful for.

Photo by CIA, Wellington Civic Square, March 2013. Around the square from left to right: Wellington Town Hall and Civic Chambers, The Majestic Centre (tall tower in the background), Wellington City Library, and the City Gallery.

Peace window

It’s human rights day today. So that has me thinking about Marc Chagall‘s Peace Window on the ground floor of the United Nations headquarters building in New York City. Created in tribute to former UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld and those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace, it is a beautiful piece of art with a deep message.

Marc Chagall, Peace Window, United Nations headquarters New York City

Doesn’t Chagall’s glass work look beautiful in photo form? We were also in awe of his monumental series of stained glass windows in the Fraumünster in Zurich. No photos allowed there though, so be sure to take the chance to check them out if you find yourself in Switzerland and haven’t already had the pleasure of seeing them.

CIA

Photo by CIA of Marc Chagall’s Peace Window, New York City, New York, United States, January 2012.

Some New York minutes

Our relatively spontaneous trip to New York in January (the result of stars aligning – cheap flights, accommodation with friends, an intense desire to see New York City) still sometimes feels like it was just last week. My own expectations were so high, I never thought the place could live up to them. But as is always the way with these things, it sneaks up with you in ways you don’t anticipate, even as some things seem muted when you see them up close for the first time.

Painted Cups

Painted coffee cups, hanging in the front-end of the Flatiron.

On our first day, after the Times (and the map), we made our way into the city. The Flatiron was our first point of interest. What we didn’t expect was the dazzling display of hanging, hand-painted coffee cups. They added immensely to the sense of occasion, and my excitement went into overdrive. The buildings, reflected in the glass, and visible through the glass hammered home that we were in the city of the skyscraper; we felt right at home.

MOMA, reflected

MOMA, reflected

We then covered a lot of ground on foot. We headed past the New York Public Library (we looked inside on another day), craned our necks up at the Empire State Building and the Rockefeller Center, before we arrived at MOMA.

PJD, reflected inside MOMA

PJD, reflected inside MOMA

As we wandered about, we enjoyed the inside of the building as much as the art.

Times Square

Times Square, lights reflecting everywhere

At the end of the day, we wandered back to Times Square. Because everyone has to go to Times Square. Don’t they? Even if they don’t, we did. And it was awful. And crass. And overrated. And most of all, it was awesome.

Some reflections on my first day in NYC (CIA had been before, and was lucky enough to visit again since!) only cement how much this city means to my imagination. In the end, it also affirms my sense of optimism. If New York is possible, almost anything is.

PJD

Photos by PJD or CIA. Provenance is hard to ascertain at this point. Incidentally, isn’t there some unstoppably excellent quality to this song? Or, more honestly, about its chorus?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Green

Colour challenges are easy, in the sense that finding photographs with a certain colour in them is usually straightforward. But, that being said, the harder task is finding a theme that can bind otherwise disparate images together. And so today I am looking at the alliterative joy of green and gothic.

Incidentally and tangentially, I always grew up with green associated with envy; a German colleague of mine in the Netherlands told me the colour is associated more with hope. What else does green make you think of?

PJD

Photos by PJD or CIA or others, in diverse European locations. Today’s post was brought to you by the letters G and P, the number 11 and the colour green.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Geometry

Geometry isn’t always an inspirational subject. I remember struggling with trigonometry, eventually reaching a point where I could reliably get the correct answer, with absolutely no understanding of the mechanics underpinning the calculations. Geometry in photography though, is a much more attractive proposition.

The geometrically complex concert hall in Reykjavík, Harpa, provides a good setting for studies of geometry. The building itself, constructed of steel-framed polygonic windows was (and is) controversial. A product of the Icelandic artist Ólafur Elíasson, as well as Henning Larsen Architects and Batteríið, construction began before the 2008 crash which triggered world-wide economic difficulties.

The expensive building was the subject of considerable debate in Iceland, before the Parliament eventually agreed to fully fund the construction of the building. I’ve been told there was some discussion that the foundations of the building should be left unfinished, to remind Icelanders of their economic folly, and as a tribute to hubris. We can, should, and must be grateful that things turned out differently, and that we have instead a beautiful, striking building which could be thought of as a Sydney Opera House (another exercise in geometry, budget overruns, and for which we can now all be grateful) of the North.

The interaction between the mirrored ceiling, the lights — which were designed to evoke the Aurora Borealis, and the optical-illusory nature of the various internal levels are astonishing. It is hard to imagine that the designers knew exactly what effect their design would have, but the building stands, gorgeously, as testament to geometry and architecture.

PJD

Photos by PJD, on a cold evening in early September, 2012.

Weekly Photo Challenged?

Better to be up, looking down…

PJD

Photo by PJD, Luxembourg, Easter, 2012. Evidently, the walls are now called the “Most Beautiful Balcony of Europe”. Some Balcony.

From the Archives

We never did figure out why there was a giant Jenga set in the middle of Utrecht…

PJD

Photo by PJD, on PJD & CIA’s first visit to Utrecht, with PJD’s sister. We tried to play Jenga, but the rain made it less than fun. Utrecht is a great city though.

%d bloggers like this: