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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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, from Andrewes House

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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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…

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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.

Museum of London from the Rotunda, 15″ x 8.5″ on Arches watercolour paper

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 in December this year (2022), and then to demolish it, along with the surrounding highwalks and pedestrian bridges over London Wall.

The dark-coloured block in the background on the right is Bastion House. This 17 storey tower block was built to the designs of architects Powell & Moya between 1972 and 1977 as part of the Barbican development. It is on top of part of the Museum of London’s display space.

The City of London now plan to demolish it.

So if the plans go ahead, this view will no longer exist. I rushed to sketch it.

This drawing is in an aspect ratio new to me: 15″ x 8.5″ or 38cm x 22cm. I wanted to get the whole of the front of the museum in the picture.

Here is comparison of the pen and ink and the the colour versions:

With and without colour

The City of London plans for the replacement buildings are on this site: https://londonwallwest.co.uk/

Residents are organising their response via the Barbican Association and this site: https://www.londonwallbest.com/

Philip Powell and Geoffry Powell

The architecture practice which designed The Barbican is “Chamberlain, Powell and Bon”. This “Powell” is Geoffrey Powell and not the Philip Powell of the Museum of London. The architects involved in designing the Barbican were: Geoffry Powell, Peter “Joe” Chamberlin, Christoph Bon, and Charles Greenberg.

The architects who designed the Museum of London and Bastion House are Philip Powell and Hidalgo Moya of the architecture practice “Powell and Moya”.

Thank you to the reader who clarified this for me.

London Television Centre – monoprint

Here’s another “packaging” monoprint. This was made using an empty box of tissues.

London Television Centre, monoprint from packaging, image size 14″ x 10″ [Available]

This is a tower block on the South bank of the river Thames, seen from the North bank. That’s the river in the foreground.

Here is the “plate”, before printing:

I have sketched this tower block here:

It’s due for demolition. So using discarded packaging to make an image of this building seemed to be appropriate. The building, though made of concrete and steel, is yet ephemeral, like my fragile plate.

I made the print on “Gampi smooth” paper from Shepherds of London. This handmade paper is thin, translucent, and has small inclusions and imperfections as you see on this detail photo:

The sky in this part of London is never empty. There are always seagulls, falling leaves, windswept paper, aeroplanes, police helicopters. And rain.

The ink for this print is Charbonnel F66 Black traditional etching ink from Intaglio Printmakers. I made the print at East London Printmakers on the Henderson etching press.

London Weekend Television, London South Bank. Paper is a bit over A3 size.

Here are some other prints made using the same technique:

Packaging monoprints

London Television Centre SE1

Here is a view of the London Television Centre, 60-72 Upper Ground, SE1. It is on the South Bank of the river Thames, a little to the East of the National Theatre and the Royal Festival Hall. It was completed in 1972 to the design of Elsom Pack & Roberts.1

London Television Centre, 30 November 2021, 10″ x 7″ in Sketchbook 11

Appreciate this building while you can – it is bring demolished. Admire the variety of the sloping roofs, the unexpected angles, the terraces overlooking the river. Appreciate the unexpected finish: it is covered in tiny, white, glistening tiles.

The history of this and two other buildings due for demolition is documented in the excellent “London Inheritance” post: Three Future Demolitions. (May 16th 2021).

The planning application reference is “21/02668/EIAFUL” submitted to Lambeth Council on 5th July 2021. It says:

Demolition of all existing buildings and structures for a mixed-use redevelopment comprising offices, cultural spaces and retail uses with associated public realm and landscaping, servicing areas, parking and mechanical plant.

Interestingly the status, as of today, is “awaiting decision”, which is strange because when I was sketching the site earlier this week, demolition was definitely in progress: both visible and audible.

For the record, here are some pictures of the current building (click to enlarge):

The proposed new building will be taller than the current tower, and the current low-level buildings are to be replaced by a wide block.

The proposed new building will be wider and taller than the existing buildings.
It seems as though we will be able to walk through the new development. And there will be cafés and restaurants on the river side. (Picture ref: see Note 2)

Here are some maps to show where this is:

I drew the picture from the inclined plane leading up to Queens Walk by the river. There must be a splendid view from the adjacent IBM building. If you work there and you’d be prepared to host me so I could draw from the balcony, then do please get in touch.

Here are some photos of my work in progress on the picture. It was cold, wet and windy, and there were a lot of seagulls. I put the seagulls in the picture, to the right of the tower. I finished the colour at my desk.

I have also drawn Colechurch House, another 20th Century building in the area due for demolition:

Note 1: Date of construction and architects are cited in: https://manchesterhistory.net/architecture/1970/itvHQ.html

“When London Weekend Television decided to build its own modern studios, it chose a site on the South Bank close to the National Theatre. The architectural practice of Elsom Pack and Roberts were commissioned to design the building. Originally known as Kent House, their building involved a 21 storey tower rising above a podium that houses the television studios. Construction started in 1970 and the first transmission was in 1972. It became known as The South Bank Television Centre and it was considered to be the most advanced television centre in Europe at that time.”

Note 2: Picture of the new building and plan from the Statement of Community Involvement, downloaded 2 Dec 2021.

https://planning.lambeth.gov.uk/online-applications/files/DD59C145D57526C2CF9B434416D1C04A/pdf/21_02668_EIAFUL-STATEMENT_OF_COMMUNITY_INVOLVEMENT-2709954.pdf

For comparison, here are the two views – the proposed development and the current view from Victoria Embankment. The visual of the proposed development shows various tall buildings which do not yet exist. The “Doon St Tower” is a proposed 43 storey tower on the inland side of Upper Ground from the National Theatre. It has planning permission (2010) but has not been built. Another tall building shown on the view of the proposed development is “Elizabeth House” a.k.a “One Waterloo”. This is set of buildings, 15 to 31 floors, next to Waterloo Station. It also has planning permission (19/01477/EIAFUL Feb 2021) but has not been built.

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