Clarence Pier, Southsea, 1961, Everett

A tasty slice of mid-century architecture on Southsea’s promenade. In Pevsner it is described as ‘quite an acceptable piece of festive architecture’. It is a remarkable survival in an age where anything built between 1950 and 1990 is deemed to be incredibly unfashionable and either pulled down and replaced by an ‘iconic landmark’ or viciously re-clad. 

Well done Clarence Pier! Glad to see that not only are you still here but you also harbour a branch of Wimpy. 

Aquatics Centre, Olympic Park, London, Zaha Hadid, 2011

I am not a fan of Zaha Hadid but it’s difficult to fault her on the undulating, surging mass that is the Aquatics Centre . I am used to seeing it from the railway lines on my way past from Norwich to London but I took the chance to get up-close before it re-opens for public use in March. There’s certainly something of Cardiff’s wonderful Senedd about the wooden cladding on the overhang but it’s a shame the sleek lines have to be ruined by a clumsily placed CCTV camera.

Therein lies the rub in all these ambitious modern buildings, the abrasion between architectural beauty and practical usage. I hope the pool will function well but there have been dozens of new leisure centres built in the UK in recent years that are already crumbling and few of them are fit-for-purpose. Wouldn’t it be nice if this one just worked. We can live in hope. 

Photos by me.

Stratford International DLR station

Built in the last few years but in a very no-nonsense way it is essentially a large concrete box which they’ve done very little to disguise. It struck me as refreshingly honest, the London clay equivilant of seeing the rock on the platforms of Stockholm’s metro stations.

It’s a blessing in what has turned into something of an architectural wasteland around Stratford station.

Photos by me.


Crawley New Town, Sussex

Crawley New Town, Sussex

construction of TWA Terminal, JFK Airport, New York, Eero Saarinen, 1962

model of TWA Terminal, JFK Airport, New York, Eero Saarinen, 1962


Churchill College, Cambridge, Richard Sheppard, 1968

Churchill College, Cambridge, Richard Sheppard, 1968

sketches by Kenneth Browne, Architectural Review, 1957/8


Killingworth New Town, Tyneside

I’m sorry I can’t find any more information on this building but I wanted to post it as it’s a beautiful example of the International Style on these shores.

Killingworth New Town, Tyneside

I’m sorry I can’t find any more information on this building but I wanted to post it as it’s a beautiful example of the International Style on these shores.

Hook New Town plans, GLC, 1961

These plans for the never-realised Hook New Town in Hampshire show the kind of architectural optimism that was rife in the middle of the twentieth century. It was never built so we’ll never know but other developments in this vein have never aged well. 

Every time I look at a Brutalist civic centre or ham-fisted New Town precinct I like to cheer myself up by putting my ‘GLC Planning Sketch’ glasses on and imagining the modernist signage, welcoming awnings and contented families that either never were or quickly got erased in favour of Cash Converters, PVC windows and anti-social behaviour orders.

Beton Brute
Architectural blog of Adam Smith.

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