Tag Archives: architecture

Jaffa: Dishevelled Delight

The Holy Land is baking and laid over with haze. Brown smudges the horizon as if a painter has worked it with her thumb. The buildings are chunks of dirty brown-grey or cream. From the aeroplane, they seem to hug the ground. Even the taller blocks hunker down. Soon, the reason becomes clear: flat roofs. They cut off and create a no-nonsense appearance rather than the illusion of  uplift. Occasionally I spot a cluster of dull red roofs with low gradients; insufficient to alter the perception.

Tonight we stay in Jaffa (or Yafo) – the port from which Jonah set sail. Not only that, it was here that Perseus rescued Andromeda from the sea monster, Cetus. They have the rocks to prove it.

Waves break on Andromeda’s Rocks near The Sea Mosque.

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Fortress and Fairytale

Dear John Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute,

Thank you for Castell Coch.

Of course, you were not entirely responsible for it – you inherited the ruins and employed William Burges, architect, to rebuild and embellish – but your vision and interest in history (not to mention, vast wealth – weren’t you one of the world’s richest people?) fuelled the project.

HDR+pS Continue reading

Lurking in Leuven

Leuven’s old city in Belgium is compact and delightful, (though it offers far fewer chocolate shops than Brugge).

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BRUGGE BITES

Don't mind if I do.

Don’t mind if I do.

Chocolate shops abound in Brugge (Bruges in English). In something of the fashion of chocolates in a box, they fill the ancient streets. I am dumbfounded. Continue reading

The Sight of Smells

I was 15 when I first smelt Singapore. I landed with my school band (I played the flute). The aeroplane door opened. I stood at the top of the steps and inhaled.

Sultry. Complex.  Heavy with spice. Layered, year upon year like sheaves of history.

The aroma has drawn me ever since. I remember it at odd times. I have wanted to immerse in it again to enjoy and to refresh my memory. Alas, passengers are now funnelled from the plane directly into the airport building. By the time one emerges into the air, the aroma is barely noticeable. It has seeped imperceptibly into one’s olfactory system . The moment of immersion, of recognition, has been stolen.

I may never fully smell Singapore again.

But I have the sight of smells.

The durian, that contradictory fruit whose repulsive smell has earned it its own sign on trains, has reached gargantuan proportions.

Fun-loving architects have left a trail around the city.

In an interesting reversal, this boat carries its own expanse of water – a 150m infinity pool (accessible only to hotel guests).

The value of tourists is duly noted with them emerging from a cornucopia.

I’ve never been to Dubai, but the extravagant shopping centre at Marina Bay Sands had me feeling that I had been transported to that acknowledged showcase of resource-devouring, environmental remodelling. Even a shopping centre with one storey and old-fashioned floors can put me in an odd state of dislocation from the outside world. This one had a PhD in disorientation, with majors in wanton excess and fun.

Float from end to end in a sampan, passing beneath miniature Venetian-style bridges.

Hitchcockian lights roost above a stage.

  

For information on the Marina Bay Sands Skypark, including the public viewing area on the stranded boat, click here.

Channelling Your Inner Bergun

As one wanders around Bergun, Switzerland, one asks oneself, ‘Could I do that?

‘Could I transform my house into a creation, a work of art, a pleasure and inspiration to me and those who see it? Could I show my aspirations, my heritage, my values – cryptically or with clarity – on my abode?’ Continue reading

Latch On

Don’t bother looking for a carpark in Latsch, Switzerland. There aren’t any. If you’ve come up from Bergün, drive out the far side to the designated area. You’ll be in good (and unusual) company.

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