Archive for the ‘Architecture’ Category
Posted in Architecture, modern, perspectives, Photography, Singapore, Tanjong Pagar, travel photography, tagged Architecture, Asia, business, CBD, lanterns, look up, perspectives, Photography, Singapore, Singapore photo of the day, Tanjong Pagar, travel photography on January 25, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
Posted in Architecture, Art, Beach, cake, cathedral, City Breaks, Dance, Food, gothic, grafitti, Landmark, modern, Photography, Roman, Spain, spanish, Spanish, street performance, Travel, travel photography, Weather, tagged Architecture, Art, bachelorette party, Beach, cathedral, city breaks, costume, Food, hen party, La Pepica, Landscapes, paella, parade, Photography, Plaza de la Virgin, reflexology on beach, Roman architecture, Spain, Torre del Micalet., Travel, travel photography, vacation, Valencia on April 23, 2012 | 1 Comment »
Sun. Paella at La Pepica. Roman architecture in the city centre. Spontaneous street parades. Independent designer street vendors. Reflexology from my beach chair. 14 girl hen / bachelorette party. Sangria. Cava.
A great weekend in a beautiful city with a wicked group of ladies. I really do love Spain. Although Seville is so far my favorite Spanish city, it does lack a beach, a quality Valencia delivers highly on. Unfortunately my fancy pants camera is in the shop. Again. Well, technically it’s not in the shop anymore. It’s being held ransom in UK customs. Here are a few shots I took with my extremely vintage iPhone. Let me know what you think.
After some partying and beach time with the ladies, I took a later flight so that I could explore the old city myself. I am so glad I did as I ran across many spectacular moments in the short span of a Sunday afternoon.
And now I’m finding it difficult to get back to the mundane tasks that life is requiring. I guess that’s what Monday is all about. What do you think the people of Valencia are doing right now? With a current 24% unemployment in Spain, perhaps I should stop day dreaming and get back to work…. for now.
Posted in Architecture, Art, East London, Exhibition, Fashion, Gallery, tagged Architecture, Art, Arthaus, cool buildings, East London, exhibit, exhibition, Fashion, fashion designers, gallery, Garnish School of Sound, Hackney, Jarek Piotrowski, London Fields, London Photo of the Day, mixed-use development, Modern Art, PVC art on February 22, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
A view from the top floor of Arthaus, a mixed-use development in the east end near Hackney and London Fields. The development houses several business including fashion designers, Garnish School of Sound and Galerie8, where Jarek Piotrowski exhibition of hand-cut PVC mats titled The Soft Machine is currently on display.
Posted in Architecture, Art, Chelsea, design, Exhibition, Interior Design, Museums, Shad Thames, Shopping, Southbank, Terence Conran, Transportation, Will and Kate, tagged 2012 Designs of the Year, Architecture, Art, Commonwealth Institute, Design, Design Museum, digital design, electric car, Fashion, Habitat, Heal's, Ikea, Kate Middleton, Kate Middleton's dress, london, Mary Quant, Museum, product design, Shad Thames, Southbank, Terence Conran, The Bluebird Cafe, transport design, Vivienne Westwood, West London on February 21, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
If you’ve been around London and paying any vague amount of attention, you’ve probably heard something about the Designs of the Year exhibit at the London Design Museum. What? You’ve never heard of the London Design Museum? Well I guess neither had Justine when I suggested we go one afternoon, so scratch that first sentence.
It’s in a slightly undesign-y looking building near Tower Bridge on the Thames. In fact, it is housed in a former 1940′s banana warehouse, but this all to change with a slated 2014 move to the former Commonwealth Institute building in west London. The museum covers product, industrial, graphic, fashion and architectural design and was a brainchild of Terence Conran, who coincidentally has an exhibit dedicated to him on the entire first floor. The museum costs £10 for adults to enter, which feels a bit expensive in a city full of free museums, but is totally worth it if you are a design geek. Being slightly artsy with a background in product design, I felt like I fell well into this category. As for Justine, she had an upcoming date with a design and art book publisher, so naturally this would aid in the development of dinner conversation material.
The current museum consists of only two floors, but to be honest this was perfect for my museum attention span. When I find myself at places like the Victoria and Albert or the British Museum, I try to see to too much and end up heady and overwhelmed. The Design Museum with a cup of coffee in the cafe and a peruse in the gift shop can easily be done in 2 hours.
As I mentioned before, the entire first floor was dedicated to Terence Conran. At the time, I had no idea who this bloke was, but turns out that’s because his contributions are so woven in to the London experience that I had been influenced by him without even knowing it. The designer, restaurateur and retailer promoted a whole new style of interior design simplicity that reverberates today across the globe. Looking at his designs, I started wondering what things had looked like prior to this ubiquitous genre. “Like an old Granny’s house,” Justine had to remind me. In my head I tried to contrast clunky wooden furniture with heavily upholstered thick florals next to sleek clean lines and curves. Obviously I’ve spent too much time in London and not enough time at my Granny’s.
In 1964 Conran opened the first Habitat and later went on to develop Heal’s. He was revolutionary in his displays as they were set up like actual living rooms, which not only taught people how designs could be arranged, but also allowed them to wander in and out of possibilities imagining them as part of their everyday life. I’m reminded of this scene from the movie 500 days of Summer.
And while we are here, shouldn’t we mention Ikea? Being founded in 1943, I can’t say that they’ve necessarily taken from Conran’s concepts, but clearly they must have influenced each other. Ikea, however, being more disposable and therefore a further step away from Granny’s living room.
Justine and I compared back and forth which Terence Conran restaurants we had been too. Most were a bit too expensive and highly appealing to the West London set. Nice area, but not quite what I consider innovative. But then again, there was a day when the King’s Road was full of Mary Quant innovation and Vivienne Westwood appeal. Funny how things evolve.
We next headed upstairs to view the 2012 Designs of the Year where my definition of design continued to expand and expand until I wasn’t quite sure what a designer is or does anymore. There was everything from a bicycle helmet that activates and extends only upon impact to a computer software program that mutates an image of your face into a creepy facsimile. Also included were an electric car, DIY design jelly shoes and elements from Kate Middleton’s wedding dress. In April, judges will chose seven winners from Architecture, Digital, Fashion, Furniture, Graphics, Product and Transport categories and one overall category winner. I couldn’t even begin to guess who the winner would be. I left with my head spinning from so many ideas.
The Design Museum is located at 28 Shad Thames, London SE1 2YD and is open daily from 10am – 5.45pm. Last admission is at 5.15pm.
Posted in Architecture, cathedral, Champagne, France, gothic, Photography, Travel, travel photography, wine tours, Winter, tagged Architecture, Art, avoiding Christmas, cathedral, champagne, champagne region, Champagne Trail, France, gothic, Photography, Pommery, Reims, stained glass window, Taittinger, Travel, travel photography, wine, wine tours on January 23, 2012 | 1 Comment »
When your living abroad, traveling back to your home country for Christmas can seem like a whole lot of work. It’s not just the trans-Atlantic flight or the juggling of family and family politics when you get there, it’s also that you are trying to do it at the most hectic time of year when expectations are really high. Sometimes it seems like a better return on your investment (price of tickets, time off work, etc) to see your family when things are less busy and there’s less pressure to squeeze so much in. Although, I’m sure my mother disagrees.
That’s why this year Husband and I opted out. Instead of heading to the States, we headed to Normandy to stay with Suse in her picturesque converted barn in the countryside. Since we were already going through the trouble of crossing the channel to France, I figured we might as well throw in some time in the Champagne region.
Visions of hopping from winery to winery tasting champagne replaced sugarplum fairies in my head. Unfortunately, since it was winter, bicycling the Champagne Route and ending up in Epernay turned out to be a damp, cold and unpleasant option. So instead of hopping on a bicycle, we parked ourselves in Reims to check out a few of the wineries there.
While in Reims, we toured the Taittinger and Pommery caves, two Champagne houses with two completely different approaches to their tours. Both included tastings at the end, but Taittinger took a grown up, classy and clear approach to explaining their process while Pommery made an odd attempt at turning their cellars into an art gallery. The Pommery tour came off a bit Disney-fied and frankly, weird. But there was still Champagne at the end so I can’t say it was bad.
The entire experience was very interesting historically. The caves of Reims, many of which have been there since they were carved out of the chalk subsoil by Roman slaves, have housed everything from monks, to refugees of World War II. You can even glimpse ancient carvings that have been made into the walls.
Other highlights in Reims include the Brasserie du Boulingrin, a traditional brasserie opened in 1925, and the Cathédrale Notre Dame, a beautiful gothic piece of architecture whose history goes back to either 400 AD or 1211 AD, depending on how you look at it, and includes Joan of Arc and the decapitation of Saint Nicaise. I have no photographic evidence of the hedonism we experienced at the Brasserie du Boulingrin, however, I can tell you that the highlight of the meal was the chocolate souffle dessert paired with a lovely serving of Calvados. Just thinking about it makes me melt into my chair. As far as the Cathedral goes, I will let the pictures speak for themselves.
A return to the Champagne region is certainly on my list. However, next time there will be sunshine. And bicycles.
Posted in Architecture, Art, British Experience, British History, British Museum, Exhibition, Museums, tagged Architecture, Art, British history, British Museum, exhibition, Hokusai, london, Museum, relics, Rosetta Stone, The Great Court, The Great Wave on December 9, 2011 | 2 Comments »
The British Museum sat on my London bucket list for a long time. Luckily, it was on Sarah and Temi’s list too when they came to visit from Texas.
Walking up to the front doors I felt a tingle of excitement. Once inside I was blown away by the Great Court.
Other highlights included the section on ancient Greece, complete with opulent drinking cups depicting engagement in naughty lustful activities, Hokusai’s colour woodblock print, The Great Wave, which is on display until 8 January, and the Rosetta Stone.
This is one tourist attraction I won’t mind returning to, unlike the Changing of the Guard which I refuse to accompany any more visitors too. I’ll give you guys a map to that one and you can go on your own.
The British Museum is free and open daily 10.00–17.30, Friday until 20.30.
Posted in Architecture, British History, Jane Austen, Photography, Travel, tagged Architecture, Bath, British history, Georgian Era, Jane Austen, Photography, Travel on October 19, 2010 | Leave a Comment »
Josh was in town for a few days on his way to Germany and was planning a day trip to Bath. I needed a break from dealing with the damage the movers inflicted on our possessions, so a trip to Bath sounded perfect. Plus, I was in the midst of reading Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey and becoming increasingly curious about what exactly a Pump Room is.
We took the train in from London. We walked the short distance from the train station to the center of town and I was pleased to see that Bath was a very pretty place.
The city hosts free walking tours daily and Josh wanted to catch one. I was along for the ride so I agreed. We purchased some snacks from one of the covered market stands and ate them in the courtyard while we waited the 30 minutes we had before the tour started. I chose a Jamaican style empanada treat that was not good at all. I immediately scolded myself for not knowing better.
The courtyards around Bath Abbey have a rotating team of street performers. They were mostly musicians, but I did see an acrobat as well. The performances and rotation schedule were extremely organized, which makes me think that the town holds some sort of audition and regulation for their street art.
The tour began in the area around the Roman Baths and courtyard. The tour guide took us to the Abbey with its flying buttresses and pinacles and went into a short description of its history. One interesting item he pointed out was the creepy looking angels climbing ladders to and from heaven. Why would angels need a ladder? Isn’t that why they have wings? Major fail.
Bath has several natural spring bathing centers. The oldest are the Roman baths. They fell into disrepair and were eventually lost due to silting up. The Georgian’s had their baths as well. It was believed at the time that a quick dip in the water would cure you of what ails you. At first the baths were only used by the poor. They would hang onto the edges while people would walk by and throw trash at them. Later the aristocracy caught on. New and more private baths were built and it became a social thing to hang out in the waters. This is how Bath became a playground for the rich.
Today there is a new and modern spa you can visit if you feel left out of the Georgian times. It’s very sleek and owned by the local government.
Finally, someone was going to explain to me what a Pump Room is. The characters in Northanger Abbey are forever parading around it flirting and gossiping and it’s hard to visualize all the galavanting when you are lost for the reference.
Basically it’s a room with a pump in it. You can drink from the warm spring that fills the Roman baths. I’ve been told the water tastes disgusting. Today you can also eat in their snazzy restaurant.
Bath owes a lot to Jane Austen for publicizing its history and atmosphere. As we walked along and through the streets, she was constantly being referenced and her house was pointed out to us. Another thing that was pointed out was the oddness of the windows around town. Very often the window frames existed without actually windows in them or the windows were placed suspiciously close to one another. This is because in Georgian times windows carried a special tax. The citizens of the day found every loop hole they could to not pay the tax. The consequences of these loop holes are still visible today.
We cut through a walkway that was used by the Georgians to avoid peasants and horses. I could envision walking through here in a large hoop dress speaking very politely yet long-winded to the lords and generals about the latest betrothing.
We were led to the Royal Crescent where local kids were playing soccer and lounging in the sun. The unique and interesting architecture makes me want to dance along the roof from chimney to chimney Mary Poppins style.
We were then taken into a building and shown this spectacular ballroom. Once again being in the midst of Northanger Abbey put everything in perspective. I imagined Catherine Morland twirling about in dance while trying her best to avoid John Thorpe.
The tour concluded so Josh and I made a quick viewing of the Fashion museum on our own. They were showcasing Princess Diana’s gowns and the evolution of her style. Although it wasn’t as extensive, this exhibit was the perfect compliment to the Grace Kelly Fashion Icon exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
We were then off to explore some more of the Roman baths. When we arrived at the entrance, there was a swarm of grade schoolers there for the tour as well. We took one look at the chaos in front of us and decided to save it for the next time we were in Bath. We poked our head into Bath Abbey instead and then headed off to dinner.
Post dinner Josh wanted to check out the Bizarre Bath comedy walk. I was skeptical, but game. My skepticism was warranted as the £8 walk turned out to be comparable to an hour and a half long street comic you might see in any touristy town center. Good on them for being organized. I doubt most street performers are that lucrative and the people around me seemed to be enjoy themselves.
I did enjoy views of the River Avon as the comic performed a stunt involving a locked up stuffed rabbit toy being thrown into the water. Bath really is picturesque.
Posted in Architecture, British History, Landmark, Views, tagged Architecture, Christopher Wren, History, Landmark, Le Havre, Monument, the Volcan, tube stops, views on September 23, 2010 | 1 Comment »
Open Daily: 09.30 – 17.30 (last admission) 17.00
Phone: +44 (0) 207 626 2717
Ever wonder why there is a tube stop called Monument? I didn’t, but it didn’t surprise me to learn that there was an actual monument there. I don’t expect there to be a real Chalk Farm or an actual Elephant and Castle, but we all know there is a Tower Bridge and a Marble Arch. Sometimes tube stop names are still relevant, sometimes they are not.
The Monument was built in the 1670s to mark the rebuilding of London post the Great Fire of 1666.The structure, built by Sir Christopher Wren is 202 feet tall which is the distance between the monument and the location that the fire began.
Everything before the fire that wasn’t built of stone was a goner. The city must have felt so new and young in the years directly after the fire as a whole new generation of architecture made its way to the forefront. Wren built 51 churches after the fire. Would he have ever had such an opportunity? Would he be a common household name otherwise? What would the cityscape look like now if there had never been such a destructive event?
This type of opportunity intrigues me. I’m reminded of cities like Le Havre, France that were completely bombed out during WWII. The city now feels strangely overwhelmed by immediately post WWII design. If the whole city hadn’t needed to be rebuilt, would Oscar Niemeyer have found another forum for his googly hand?
Anyway, for £3 you can climb the 311 steps to the top of the Monument and take in the views. Honestly, you can get better views in other structures around London, but it is neat to try and imagine where the fire started. If the monument were to topple over, there is a chance you would land there.
While the climb up got narrow and uncomfortable, the climb down made me really dizzy and claustrophobic. Flip flops were a bad choice of footwear. At one point I lost a shoe and decided it was safer to make the remainder of the trip barefoot.
As I exited, I was awarded a nice little certificate to show off that I had made the journey to the top. The certificate depicted how the Monument appeared when it first opened. Nice touch.
Bottom Line: It’s a good way to contemplate the Great Fire of 1666. I am glad I did it once, but I don’t think I need to do it again. Wear appropriate footwear.
Boyfriend’s company was taking part in a huge industry event and loads of employees were coming to London to participate. Many people were bringing their wives and the CEO’s wife was hosting a special spouse event that included a trip to the V&A Museum to see the Grace Kelly exhibit and lunch at the Ritz.
You could spend days in the Victoria and Albert Museum and not feel like you’ve seen everything. The place is huge and there is such a wide variety of exhibits that even the most museum adverse can find something of interest.
Grace Kelly : Style Icon highlighted the life and wardrobe of the Princess of Monaco from her early modeling days on through to her days in the palace. There are several famous dresses, shoes, hats, glasses and other pieces she wore throughout her life. She tended to wear things more than once, unlike many Hollywood personalities today. She described it as being faithful to her clothes like she would be faithful to her friends.
Although her clothes evolved with the times, she sustained a femininity valued strongly in her era. This ideal fulfillment is what I think made her so popular, but what made her endearing are the small glimpses that portray a person behind the image. For example, photos depict her wearing her glasses on the tip of her nose because she was shortsighted. These images take her out of the realm of object and remind you she’s human.
After viewing the Grace Kelly exhibit we were free to have a look around the museum on our own for an hour or so. I decided to tackle the 1:1 Architects Build Small Spaces Exhibit and have a stroll through the garden.
I highly recommend the Architects Build Small Spaces Exhibit. V&A invited nineteen architects to submit proposals for structures examining notions of refuge and retreat. Seven were selected and constructed and are dotted throughout the museum. You grab a map and one by one hunt them down. This is great not only for architecture enthusiasts, but also for getting to know your way around the massive museum.
One of my two favorite structures was a reproduction of an unauthorized structure in Mumbai. This small but well used space was home to a family of eight. Not a bit of space was wasted. There were even areas reserved within the structure for contemplation and worship. The Studio Mumbai achieves their goal of communicating the poetry of such small and disregarded habitats. I felt humbled while exploring this space and contemplating my own relative palatial home.
My other favorite structure was a free standing wooden tower of books. The wood structure was unfinished and had not only a natural feel and look, it also had a wonderful smell. Books were aligned within the wooden structure to achieve entire walls consisting only of used books. This formed a wonderful collage, each book full of ideas and concepts yet to be learned and experienced. Within the tower were small reading chambers where the viewer was invited to browse the books, sit and meditate or just rest. I can honestly say this is one of the most peaceful, calming and meditative spaces I have ever been in. I could have curled up in the meditation couch for the rest of the day and been at one with the universe.
While I wanted to stay in the book structure forever, I also wanted to check out the garden. It was a well manicured garden with a terrific water feature and cafe. It’s a nice place to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee or contemplate the works of art you have just viewed.
At this point, it was time to meet up with the group and head towards the Ritz for lunch. Upon arrival, we were greeted with an exceptional level of service by the staff and sat in the extensively adorned Music Room.
I have always wanted to go to the Ritz for afternoon tea, but considering the touristy nature and high price, I had put it off for a special occasion or when I had visitors who also wanted to go.
The first course for our lunch was a crown of asparagus served with walnut salad and lemon creme fraiche. The presentation was beautiful. Please forgive the quality of these photos. They were taken with an old iPhone.
For my main course I had chosen Spring Vegetable Risotto. Some of the ladies at the table looked at my meal with envy. “Back off, it’s mine!” I told them.
While the Risotto was delicious and the asparagus was decent, the dessert was amazing. We were served strawberry terrine with buttermilk sorbet. The doughnut on the end completed the dish for me.
Our meal was followed by coffee, teas and frivolities. We passed the frivolities around and around again. The other ladies groaned about their waistlines, but I dug in each time. I’m definitely not one of those girls who doesn’t eat carbohydrates.
The meal was really a treat. You can have a more affordable but just as good meal elsewhere (although I didn’t pay, the company did) and you don’t always want to be around such pomp and circumstance. Considering that, the Ritz London is one of those things you need to do once. I enjoyed the experience thoroughly.
Victoria and Albert Museum – Go see the 1:1 Architects Build Small Spaces exhibit. It’s free and on through the end of the August.
The Ritz London – Go once for a treat, preferably when someone else is paying. It’s touristy and expensive, but the food is delicious, the experience unique.