New Chinese Architecture

Published by Thames & Hudson, I got this just before the lockdown started. China has a lot to answer for in terms of human rights, and there is something about what I see as the culture that exerts pressure on it to grow. With a huge proportion of the population heading for the cities, that pressure has resulted in growth unlike anything I’ve ever been aware of. This book seems to capture that in the dynamism of the architects called on to shape the buildings and the cities they populate.

Get it here

London (so far)

Its going to take me quite a while to get around everywhere I need to go in London. What I have so far was taken while on a march in March ’19. Five pictures taken on the route itself then the rest taken at the South Bank, of the National Theatre and surrounding buildings. This was my first go with the Canon 6D and EF24-105mm f/4 L lens combo.

I’m compiling a map of sites to visit, 37 sites so far, some of them are clustered nicely (thank you Thamesmead) but most not.

Patterns in masonry
National Theatre, London
Balconies like steps
IBM stairs


Finally, the city itself. I’d come here looking for the sites Tarkovsky had used in his film, Stalker but instead found a place uneasy about its past but focused on the future with an energy I’d never have guessed at.

Lennusadam Seaplane Harbour

These concrete domes were built in the early 20th century and were, at the time, the largest in the world. They have stained and coloured with age in a way unlike any others concrete I’ve seen.

Patarei Sea Fortress

Originally a fortress, it ended up as a prison during the Soviet era. There is an aura about this place that feels sorrowful.

The Linnahall

Gutted I couldn’t get in although when I visited, there was someone there. The exterior hides a remarkable interior, the photo essay at shows it off well.

Maarjamäe Memorial

Immediately adjacent to the memorial featured in yesterday’s post is this. Built during the Soviet occupation to commemorate the Russian and Estonian soldiers that died in World War II, as well as the sailors in two warships. The crosses were added later as a memorial to the fallen Germans. My understanding that the decision to site the soviet memorial here was another example of the cultural imperialism typical of the USSR in that it was built directly on top of an earlier, Estonian, commemorative site.

Memorial #1

Between 17th June 1940 and 20th August 1991 Estonia was occupied by the communist regime. During that time, a million people were lost – about a fifth of the population – of those, about 75000 were murdered, imprisoned or deported. The scale of this horror is reflected in the size and structure of the monument. Tranquil, respectful, dignified and imposing.

Tower #2

Brutally imposing, the tower is 314m tall – 170m to the observation deck. There’s a lift but you have to pay extra to use the stairs. It has got bullet holes at the base (from the 1991 revolution) and the concrete should withstand more than three hundred freeze/thaw cycles. The picture shows the seams of the 2.5m tall rings that were poured as a sliding mold moved up. From the deck, I could see the Gulf of Finland easily and got some good shots of Tallinn. Well worth a visit.