Bastion House EC2 from 88 Wood Street

I sketched this from the outside tables at 88 Wood Street. A small coffee shop run by Dartbrooke Coffee has opened in this office block. The coffee was superb, the welcome warm, and they had a selection of food. Also they had tables both indoors and out. Here’s the view from an outdoor table overlooking London Wall.

Bastion House EC2 from 88 Wood Street, 6th September 2022 in Sketchbook 12

I liked all the angles.

That’s rain you see in the sky. I had to pack up quickly as the rain came down.

Rain on the painting!

This picture took 1hour 10 minutes up to the point in the photo above when it started raining. Then another 20 minutes at my desk to finish off.

Here’s a map. The building on the left of my drawing is 200 Aldersgate, a huge office block.

Map showing where I was sketching and my viewpoint.

Bastion House is the monolith in the centre of the picture, with the Barbican Highwalks below leading to the Museum of London.

Bastion House, the Highwalks, and the Museum of London are all under threat of demolition by the City of London and replacement with three huge office blocks, overshadowing the Barbican. All the bridges will be removed, and all the highwalks in this area. This is not a good idea, in my view, and I support the residents’ call to the City to stop and think. Do we need yet more huge office blocks…really? Can we not refurbish the existing buildings, as has happened successfully to nearby blocks?

Here are some other sketches of Bastion House:

Bastion House from Podium Level

Bastion House aka 140 London Wall is a huge modernist monolith, reminiscent of the monolith in “2001 – A Space Odyssey”. I couldn’t find a site to draw…

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Bastion House, London Wall

I hastened to draw the magnificent Bastion House, on London Wall. It is due for demolition. In the foreground you see the balcony and privacy screen of the…

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Marine Court, St Leonards, East Sussex, TN38

Here is the magnificent Marine Court, a residential building on the coast at St Leonards in Sussex. It was built in the 1930s, although it looks later. It was hugely controversial at the time, as you can imagine. The design emulates that of an ocean liner, the Queen Mary. Wikipedia tells me that the building originally had a rooftop bar, which must have been fun.

Marine Court, St Leonards, in sketchbook 12

I was particularly taken by the design right at the top. From this angle, it looks like waves. This building is on the sea front, the sea is behind me and to the left.

The top of the building looks like waves. I had to number the floors to keep track of where I was…!

It is an Art Deco building, constructed between 1936 and 1938. It was requisitioned for military use in the 1939-45 conflict, and bombed in September 1942. The bomb damage was repaired after the war. It was listed Grade II in 1999.

The original concept was upmarket serviced apartments:

Design for total living environment
Marine Court was designed to provide “an environment for total living” – a self-contained lifestyle within the complex, but not necessarily within each apartment. Modest sized flats originally had tiny kitchens – it was assumed that most of the inhabitants would dine in the main restaurant at the eastern end of the building, or avail themselves of room service.
There were shops, parking, roof sun decks and recreational facilities (including a dance floor and bar) – and in-house staff to do the chores (there are still some call buttons to summons the now-defunct service).

Hastings Borough Council Marine Court, St Leonards-on-Sea Conservation, Management Plan [1]

It was privately developed. But the construction costs went over budget and sales of flats were slow. The owners, South Coast (Hastings and St. Leonards) Properties Company, went bust. After being occupied by the military, the building passed into the hands of Hastings Borough Council. By 2007, the building was becoming old, and evidently the repairs programme was not coping with the deterioration of the building. Hastings Borough Council proposed an plan [1]. This lists the problems in some detail, including such serious items as:

Condition of building service equipment
The condition of building services and utility equipment [gas boilers / water / electricity / air /lifts / other] are the cause of some shared concern amongst the building’s managing agents and the residential leaseholders

Hastings Borough Council Marine Court, St Leonards-on-Sea Conservation, Management Plan [1]

Evidently this plan by Hastings Borough Council did not work out well, because by 2010 the leaseholders had acquired the freehold and formed their own company: “Marine Court (St Leonards On Sea) Freeholders Limited”.

The flats look beautiful inside, as you can see for example in this listing from “The Modern House” estate agent: https://www.themodernhouse.com/past-sales/marine-court-vi/

The “Hastings Independent” reported on January 25th 2019: “The Grade II listing in 1999 made the costs of upkeep that much higher. However, the freehold was bought by the residents through a company, Marine Court (St Leonards on Sea) Freeholders Limited in 2010, and the prestige of the address, not to mention the glorious sea views from its upper windows, has ensured that most of the flat owners have been affluent enough, or can charge sufficient rent to sub-tenants, to meet the restoration bills as they are incurred.” The article goes on to describe problems in letting the retail shops which are underneath the canopy. They say: “Current controversies centre on the cost of works to upgrade a series of shared toilets at the rear of the premises with enhanced fire precaution measures including smoke alarms. The shops, which don’t need to provide toilet facilities for their customers, make sparing use of them; on the other hand, they are essential to the bars and restaurants, which do. Either way the projected cost of almost £100,000, charged in advance on the basis of estimates, is widely regarded as completely out of proportion to what is necessary or reasonable. …Some [business owners] are said to be taking legal advice on how to challenge the extent of the charges being levied. Others have simply left. There are several shopfronts now boarded up, which is having an adverse effect not just on general morale, but on the footfall which most of those who remain depend upon. “

That was in 2019. When I walked past in 2022, the majority of the shopfronts were boarded up, which is a great pity, as it is a good location, and shielded from the sun and wind.

Marine Court colonnade, July 2022, looking East.

It is a building on the edge, in many senses.

In case you are a little hazy about the location of St Leonards, here is a map.It is on the English south coast, between Brighton and Dover.

Reference 1: Hastings Borough Council Marine Court, St Leonards-on-Sea Conservation, Management Plan (2007)

p6: “Design for total living environment”

p10: “Condition of the building service equipment”

You can read or download the document directly here (31 pages):

The Brunswick Centre, WC1

The Brunswick Centre, in Bloomsbury, London has been described as a “heroic prototype for a holistic community” [levittbernstein.co.uk]. There are 560 flats, a cinema, a medical centre and offices in a single development: hence “holistic”. It was radical in that it differs from the Georgian and Victorian houses all around.

Brunswick Centre, Bloomsbury, 13:50 9th August 2022, in Sketchbook 12

It was designed by Peter Hodgkinson during 1966-1970. The original plan was to extend the development all the way up to the Euston Road. There was a significant renovation in 2006 by the architects Levitt Bernstein. They made the shop fronts extend into the plaza in the middle, renovated the flats and added an “anchor supermarket” (Waitrose) at the northern end.

Where I did the drawing

I sketched the pen and ink on location, then repaired to the Store Street espresso on Tavistock Place to do the colour. There are very few colours in the picture: Buff Titanium, Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Umber and a tiny bit of Transparent Pyrrol Orange.

Bastion House, 140 London Wall

Earlier this month, I made a quick sketch of Bastion House, from London Wall.

140 London Wall, Bastion House, sketched 2nd August 2022 from London Wall, in sketchbook 12

Here’s a map:

The architect was Philip Powell of Powell and Moya. The building was completed in 1976. I like this building. It reminds me of the “obelisk” in the film “2001 – A Space Odessey”.

The City of London have the idea that they are going to demolish this building, and the Museum of London next to it, and build three large office blocks: bigger and wider than the existing buildings, providing some 750sq ft of commercial office space.

This mystifies many of us, as we witness empty office blocks all around this location. It also angers us, as such huge buildings will take sun from the residential estate to the North. There seems to be a case for pausing the proposed project, and considering renovation of the existing buildings. Renovation would be better from a carbon emissions point of view, as demolition and construction are a large source of carbon dioxide emissions.

There is a co-ordinated movement to ask the City of London to think again. The website is here: https://www.londonstartshere.co.uk/

I have sketched these threatened buildings before:

Bastion House, London Wall

I hastened to draw the magnificent Bastion House, on London Wall. It is due for demolition. In the foreground you see the balcony and privacy screen of the flat in Andrewes, whose leaseholder had kindly hosted me. The line of red brick, and what looks like chimneys, in the foreground are the rooftops of a part of the Barbican, “The Postern”. Behind them is the Barber-Surgeons’ Hall on Monkwell Square,…

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Bastion House from Podium Level

Bastion House aka 140 London Wall is a huge modernist monolith, reminiscent of the monolith in “2001 – A Space Odyssey”. I couldn’t find a site to draw the monolith part today, so here is a view at Podium Level, looking West towards the Museum of London. You see the dark undercroft, walkways and a road to a car park. Also you see the bridge that crosses London Wall. http://postwarbuildings.com…

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St Pauls and Bastion House

I am sketching the views out of the window. Just visible over the top of Bastion House is the top of “OneBlackfriars”. In the foreground: Mountjoy House, Barbican, on the right. Along the bottom is the Barbican Highwalk which joins Mountjoy House and Wallside. I have drawn Bastion House before: This drawing took rather a long time as I stopped a couple of times. As a result, by the time…

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St Giles and Bastion House

Today Urban Sketchers London held a “sketch crawl” in the Barbican. So I joined them. An astonishing number and diversity of people assembled inside the entrance of the Barbican Centre at the appointed time of 11am. I counted about 35 and then another dozen or so joined. All shapes and sizes of people, tall, short, studious-looking or flamboyant, quiet or talkative, smart or windblown, old or young, all were there.…

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The Museum of London EC2

From the highwalk on the Rotunda there is a really amazing view of the Museum of London and Bastion House. This whole view going to change radically, if the City of London plans are approved. The Museum of London is in the South West corner of the Barbican. It was designed by Philip Powell and Hidalgo Moya. The Museum opened in 1976. The City of London plan to close it…

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Buildings in Yorkshire

Have you seen this amazing annex to the Theatre Royal in York?

Theatre Royal Extension, York. 28 July 2022 in sketchbook 12. 10″ x 7″

It’s a stunning addition to the Victorian theatre next door. The older part of the theatre, on the right of my drawing, is in the Gothic revival style around 1879, designed by the then city engineer G Styan. The modernist extension, whose amazing soaring shapes are on the left of my drawing, was designed by Patrick Gwynne and RA Sefton, in 1967. The whole thing has been redeveloped in 2016, retaining the external shapes. I love the courage of this modernist extension. It’s not far from the station. I sketched it waiting for the train.

The Theatre Royal (in red) is just a few hundred yards from the station.

Here is a 21st century housing estate in the area. It’s an interesting contrast to the Theatre Royal extension. In this case the architects made new buildings which look traditional on the outside. They even have chimney pots. Inside they have 21st century standards of insulation, heating and plumbing. The chimney pots are simply decorative.

21st century housing in Yorkshire, in sketchbook 12, July 2022

Here are some smaller sketches I made touring around:

The Hepworth Wakefield was a revelation: well worth a diversion. It’s a beautiful building itself, which I shall be sure to sketch when I visit again.

Yorkshire – halfway up the UK mainland.

I’ve sketched in York on a previous visit, see this post:

Sketching in York

Here is the “Micklegate Bar”, which is one of the great gates through the old City wall into the centre of York. I sketched this outside a bar called “Micklegate Social”. The staff were inside, cleaning and setting up. They…

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Sketching in Aberdeen, summer 2022

Here is a house in Firhill Place, Aberdeen, near the University.

House in Firhill Place, Aberdeen, 24 June 2022

I sketched it from a coffee shop called “Grub”, on Orchard Street.

Here’s Aberdeen Town House, with its marvellous turrets.

Aberdeen City Council Town House from Broad Street. 24th June 2022

Aberdeen Town House was built in 1868-74 by John Dick Peddie and Charles George Hood Kinnear. It incorporates the remaining part of the Tolbooth of 1615-29 by Thomas Watson of Old Rayne at the east, and includes the City Chambers to Broad Street, added in 1975 by the Aberdeen City Architect’s Department, with Ian Ferguson and Tom Campbell Watson as its chief architects.

https://britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/200406609-aberdeen-town-house-castle-street-aberdeen-aberdeen

The building on the left of my sketch is the brutalist structure “City Chambers” covered in a tessellation of rectangles of grey marble. Its foundation stone was laid on 17th November 1975, according to the inscription on the foundation stone.

I was on my way to the ferry terminal.

Next stop, Shetland.

Bank of England – Tivoli Corner

I took advantage of the road closures for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee to sketch this corner of the Bank of England.

Bank of England – Tivoli Corner, 2nd June 2022, in Sketchbook 12
Temple of Vesta, Tivoli, modern photo from Wikipedia Commons on this link

This is the North-West corner of the Bank of England. The perimeter wall was designed by John Soane in 1805. The design of the corner was inspired by the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli.

The John Soane museum has a marvellous digital archive with detailed notes on his work on the Bank of England. John Soane was surveyor to the Bank of England for 45 years, from 1788 to 1833. During that time the role of the Bank of England changed from a small bank helping out the government with the national debt, to a significant national institution, printing money and managing Income Tax. The Soane museum archive notes:

Since its foundation in 1694, the Bank of England had financed Britain’s wars and managed the national debt. War, therefore, resulted in more business for the Bank, demanding extensive alterations and additions. Soane’s vast building work was largely the result of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars that lasted from 1793 to 1815. More space was required as the staff doubled during this time and the bank note printing process was carried out on site. In addition, new offices were required as the Bank’s responsibilities and roles changed, such as a place for managing the newly instituted Income Tax of 1799.

Madeleine Helmer, 2010-2011, on this link © Sir John Soane’s Museum, London

Here is a view from the North-West in 1807, showing the John Soane Bank of England as constructed. You see the Tivoli Corner, which is there today.

North face of the Bank of England, exhibited in the Royal Academy 1809, by “John Soane Archt 1807” Photo: © Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, http://collections.soane.org/OBJECT3718

John Soane’s 3-storey building was demolished to make way for a new 7-storey building constructed 1925-39 by Herbert Baker. Soane’s perimeter wall was retained, but everything else was replaced. It is Herbert Baker who is responsible for that dome in my drawing, and also for the marvellous walk-through passage at this corner. You can see the North side of the passage in my drawing. For more photos of this passage and a description, I recommend the wonderful “IanVisits” site. Ian visits Tivoli Corner on this link. Or go there! And look up.

I took advantage of the road closure to sketch standing in Moorgate.

As I sketched, people walked past either side of me, in extraordinary hats. Everyone was cheerful and the sun shone. I enjoyed chatting to the various people who stopped to examine my drawing or comment on the view.

Pen, before the colour went on

You see the traffic bollards in the drawing. Those were patiently removed by a security guard every time a police vehicle approached, and equally patiently replaced. This must have happened about six times in the hour and half I was there.

Site progress drawings 1798. Joseph Michael Gandy (1771-1843) Photo: © Sir John Soane’s Museum, London SM (58) volume 69/14

The John Soane archive notes on Tivoli corner are on this link. This site has some lively “work-in-progress” drawings of the construction of the Bank of England. Here is one. See how modern it looks! It was drawn in 1798, the same year that Nelson fought Napoleon in the Battle of the Nile.

Colechurch House – monoprint

Colechurch House on the South Bank is a brutalist office block. It makes a good subject for a packaging print. Since it is a a 1960s block, I added a 1960s type shape in chine collé.

Colechurch House – monoprint and chine collé, paper size,15″ x 12″ Shoji Baku Japanese Paper

The chine collé paper is Khadi Lokta Coloured saffron washi paper from Atlantis Art (ref: KPNI SA). The background paper for this print is Shoji Baku paper from Shepherds Bookbinders (ref: LRG 1859). The ink is Charbonnel traditional etching ink. I printed this on the Henderson Press at East London Printmakers. Here is a video of the “print reveal” (17seconds, silent):

Thanks to Evonne at East London Printmakers for filming me!

Here are the other 4 prints from this plate. They are all on a different, but similar paper: Tosa Washi from Shepherds, (ref: J632180)

The print was based on a sketch of Colechurch House last year. See this post:

Colechurch House, London Bridge SE1

Aficionados of 20th Century brutalist architecture need to hasten to appreciate Colechurch House. It is due for demolition and redevelopment. This month’s post in the marvellous “London Inheritance” site informed me about the planning application, so I rushed over there to draw a picture before the building became swathed in plastic. I drew this picture looking over the railings from London Bridge. This position commanded an excellent view of Colechurch House, but … Continue reading “Colechurch House, London Bridge SE1”

Here are more examples of the technique using a plate made from packaging material. I have written about the process here.

Shakespeare Tower, Barbican EC2

Here is a view of the east face of Shakespeare Tower, Barbican, from Defoe Place, near the Barbican Centre. You can see the main entrance to the tower. On the right is Cromwell Highwalk, and Ben Jonson House beyond. On the left you can just see the stairs that go down into Defoe Place from the highwalk.

Shakespeare Tower from Defoe Place, 12″ x 9″ [commission]
Preliminary sketch

I wanted this picture to give an impression of what it is like to walk around the Barbican. There are different depths, and sharp contrasts of dark and light, and large open spaces. Workers from the library looked out of their windows, saw me drawing and came to look at the picture. This was drawn in February, but still there were some flowers in the planters, even though this particular planter was in a shaded and windy place. The smell, however, was not of flowers but cigarette ends. People evidently use the area under the stairs as a smoking area, and drop their butts. So that’s the Barbican: people who talk to you, soaring towers, great perspective views, wide open spaces and a certain shabbiness around the edges.

Here is the pen-and-ink compared with the colour:

Before and after the colour went on

This was a commission. I am grateful to my client for the prompt to examine the Tower from this unusual angle. And also for sending me this photo of the framed watercolour:

Framed watercolour. Photo credit: NM

A collection of my drawings of the Barbican is here:

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Museum of London EC2 – monoprint

Here is an image of The Museum of London, in the south west corner of the Barbican:

Museum of London, packaging etching, paper size 21″ x 17″, on Shiramine Select Japanese paper.

The “plate” is made from a UHT milk carton. Here is the back of the used plate:

Back (unprinted) side of the plate.

Here is the front (print side) of the plate, before inking:

Front (print side) of the plate

To find out more about this technique, have a look at this page on my website (click link):

Print plates made of packaging

I have also sketched the Museum of London area:

The Museum of London EC2

From the highwalk on the Rotunda there is a really amazing view of the Museum of London and Bastion House. This whole view going to change radically, if the City of…

Read more…

Bastion House, London Wall

I hastened to draw the magnificent Bastion House, on London Wall. It is due for demolition. In the foreground you see the balcony and privacy screen of the flat in Andrewes,…

Read more…
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