A rainy afternoon at Barbican Estate – London

L1008013One of the thinks I wanted to visit during my last trip to London was Barbican Center.

The estate is an example of Britsh Brutalist architecture built between the 1960s in an area once devastated by World War II bombings. Opened in 1969 and is now home to around 4,000 people living in 2,014  apartments. The residential estate consists of three tower blocks and 13 terrace blocks. You can read more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbican_Estate

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I cant remember having been there in my many trips to London when I was younger, I probably spent most of my time around Camden, Soho and Portobello road.

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I finally reached the place on a rainy afternoon ; weather and timing were no really photography friendly. I did not take any film shots and I think I only used the 35 and 35 summicrons. I regret not having pulled out the M6 loaded with Tri-x from the bag, but it was really feeling cold and wet at the time

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The place is really majestuous in its own way, it has been shot many times and its probably great for on location shots. The brutalist style is characterized by the usage of concrete on the outside parts of the buildings.

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There are a lot of different constructions, passages and angles which can provide a great variety of subjects.

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How to get there? Easy : Barbican is an underground stop on the Circle line, Hammersmith & City line and Metropolitan line.

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A lot of details of the architecture and decoration are surely work a look as the lift lobby above (where does this flare come from?)

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There are plenty of resources online about the estate, even some BBC programs about life in the estate.

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All shots taken with Leica M262 and summicrons 28mm Asph v1 and 35mm Asph v2

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A rainy afternoon at Barbican Estate – London

Not shooting much in Naoshima

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Kusama Iconic Pumpkin in Naoshima

Naoshima is an island town in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea, it has been a long time project to go there, as it hosts several arts museum built by Tadao Ando as well as a famous hotel made by the same architect.

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This year we finally made the trip to Osaka and on the way to Hiroshima we stopped at Naoshima. Getting there seems difficult at first, but in the end it is quite easy, you take the train either to Takamatsu or to Tamano and ferry to the island.

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The Benese house hotel is full 6 months in advance so we had no chance to stay there. We then decided to sleep in Takamatsu and take a ferry for a day trip in Naoshima. Takamatsu is a secondary town, with a big hotel “JR Clement” (a bit expensive for what you get) and a few restaurants where you can manage in english. It also hosts the garden-museum of Isam Nogushi which is well worth the visit.

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A day is Naoshima is probably enough, the Chichu museum hosts some art pieces made to measure and the Benese house museum has an awesome collection of modern and contemporary art. The Lee Ufan museum is also worth the visit, although less well know if you are not into minimalist art. We took a bus to the Chichu Museum with is the furthest palace from the ferry and walked our way back from there.

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The subtle architecture of Tadao Ando is beautiful and invite to meditation. All the buildings are no photo, so you will see here no photos of the them. And I must say I did not miss being surrounded by people taking selfies, not that the place is packed though.

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The rest of the island contains minor exhibitions in some traditional houses and some outdoors installations.

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We spent a nicely filled 10 hours there and probably enjoyed most of it. Time to take the ferry back to Takamatsu

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Pictures shot with Leica M262 and Summicron 28/35 or 50.

Not shooting much in Naoshima

Tadao Ando’s Church of the Light – Osaka

The Church of the light is Osaka, is one of the most famous designs of Japanese architect Tadao Ando and it was the highlight of our first day is Osaka.

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Built in 1989, is it located 20km from the center of Osaka. It is a quite small building the chapel which is the original building is only a bit more than 100 sq meter.

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When the parish approached Tadao Ando, the most important point was the lack of funding that was available for the building. That suits the minimalist approach of the architect who also chose to use some recycling planks for instance to built the bench.

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The most iconic feature of the building is the wall of the chapel at the back of the altar wit its hollowed cross from which the light pours.

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Bare concrete, narrow spaces, the emptiness is expected to make room for the spirituality.

 

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The chapel also contains an organ (with rear view mirrors)

10 years later a second building, the Sunday school,  was added on the side of the chapel with similar architectural elements.

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From the practical side : you can visit the web site of the church : http://ibaraki-kasugaoka-church.jp/e-forvisitors.html

You will learn that the church is not open for visits every day and that you have to register online for the visits. (we did). The ladies there were so nice that I don’t think it is  a problem if you forget to do it, but given the time to get there better be safe. The entrance is free but you are asked to make a small donation for the  maintenance of the building

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Accessing the church from Osaka you have to take the train to Ibaraki station (30 minutes) and then the bus the church. All in all it should take 45 minutes to an hour. At the station there are not many signs, you have to take but number two  which starts on the left most bus stop outside of the station when you face outside. There is a taxi stand there, you better ask than wandering for 20 minute like me.

The are plenty of excellent resources on the web of the church itself.

Color shots Leica M262, BW Leica M6+Ultrafine Xtreme 400ISO lens – Summicron 28,35 and 50

Tadao Ando’s Church of the Light – Osaka

CHANDIGARH – THE CAPITOL COMPLEX

 

The Open Hand Monument

So here we are on the last day of our trip, on the road to visit the Capitol Complex; the heart of Chandigarh, designed (partially) by Le Corbusier in the late 1950’s. An ode to modernist architecture that we have been longing to visit for years.

Palace of Assembly

Well not quite; aside from the bad planning (in my own opinion) of our travel agent, visiting Chandigarh is a bit more complicated than we thought. So apart from the 3 sites cited in my last post, there is nothing organised to visit the habitations buildings and finally you have to go through a guided tour to visit the Capitol Complex.

The Shadow Tower

This is not quite all : the two main buildings on the Capitol, the High court and the Assembly are in use (why should they not be after all?). So you cannot enter the High Court and you are lucky (we were) to enter the Assembly ( but no photos inside).

Punjab and Haryana High Court or palace of Justice

Add bye the time the guide assembled the small crowd of tourists we started our visit by mid morning, time was starting to be short and the light was quite bad for taking pictures.

As you can see above the high court is in use with layers in their work outfits.

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In the opposite site of the plaza from the Hight court, the Palace of Assembly has a better lighting. It is overseeing a large pond and offers a spectacular view.


The holes in the front walls give nice perspectives and see through views.

Patterns on the assembly walls, reminding that man is the scale of the construction.

Getting out of the Assembly House the inevitable Ambassador car, now a civil servant official car, which used to be common taxis.

Mister Mohan

Our visit was accompanied by Mister Mohan, from the tourist Police who turned out to be a friendly person.

A few more things:

  • For the habitations buildings there are no restrictions to go and visit them, ask inhabitants,… we met some passionate french people who were spending a full week there. But Chandigarh is a big city so you better plan for what you want to see.
  • You can “pass by” on a road at the back of the Open Hand monument, in  a certain distance, without getting into a tour and then be able to take picture at better moments (I did not)
  • The tour of the Capitol Complex is a bit rushed through, you are not welcome to wander around or take too long with your photography nonsense,
  • You do not see on the pictures, the parking lots, the vans, the 20 Spanish tourists of our tour, the barriers,…
  • How did I manage to take so poor pictures of a site I longed to visit for decades? It shows (if needed) that some skills need working on.
  • Camera geekerry : color shots Leica M262, black and while Leica M6, Summicron 28 and Summicron 50
CHANDIGARH – THE CAPITOL COMPLEX

Phool Cinema Hall – Patiala – India

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The Phul or Phool cinema is a theater in Patiala in Punjab.
It is an impressive Art Deco building erected in a rather large compound in a rather busy traffic junction in the city.

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I first spot it from the car when we passed by, and as we were having some samosas on the other side of the road I could not resist to cross the junction for a closer look.

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India the (other) land of cinema! Our guide discussed with a man that looks to be the guardian or operator or both of the cinema and he happily showed us around. The art deco fixtures are beautiful. Not only could we see the entrance, but also the upstairs foyer and the projection room.

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The old projectors are now at rest replaced by a digital device. We could even peep into the room where Judwaa 2 was showing.

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The highlight of the visit was when our host (below) showed us to the top of the building.

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Thank you very much sir for the visit.

All shots in very poor light with Leica M262 and Summicron 50mm. I did not wand to loose time changing lens, but the the view of the roof top with the moon and the projectors view would have benefit from a wider lens. For the poor light, I have to consider if a faster would help. Maybe a 35Lux sometime?

I am just printing the portrait above and posting it to the cinema today.

Phool Cinema Hall – Patiala – India

The Moorish Mosque, Kapurthala (India)

The city of Kapurtalha is 70 km or 1 and half hour drive from Amritsar. Is used to be a princely state in British India, and its late Maharajah, Jagatjit Singh built a certain number of monuments in the 1930’s, making the city a “Little Paris”.

The Mosque was build by French architect M. Manteaux, who had also designed the Jagatjit Palace in the city. The intention of the Maharajah was to offer his Muslim subject  the best place of worship in order to preserve balance between the cults.

The mosque’s architectural design is based on the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakesh ( Morocco ).

The building is beautiful outside and inside;and in very good condition, we were just surprised to it empty. The man in charge was very nice and happy to show us around.

The courtyard is of marble; the interior patterns were originally made by artists from Lahore.

Kapurthala, looks like a very nice city, probably of 200000 inhabitants, with a lot of other buildings of architectural interest. Among them the Jagatjit Palace (Palace of the Maharajah), inspired by Versailles and the Jagatjit  Club. The palace is now a military school and unfortunately cannot be visited without a prior authorization that we did not get. But just looking around in the street around the mosque a lot of smaller buildings are worth a look.

The other place of interest of Kapurthala is the Rail Coach Factory, but also requires an authorization and our trip organizer was ignorant of it so we could not access it, in spite of the efforts of our guide, bit of disappointment on my side.

All shots with Leica M262 and summicron 28 (mostly) or 50.

The Moorish Mosque, Kapurthala (India)

St Matthew’s Church – Neil Road

Small walk to Neil Road a few weeks back  to check the intriguing architecture of the old abandoned St Matthews Church.

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Most of the information here is taken from Remember Singapore  a great site about things of the past in Singapore.

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The original church was built in the 1890’s as a place of worship for the British sailors.

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It operated though all the first half of the 20th Century, including the Japanese occupation during WWII.

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In the late fifties, St Matthew’s embarked on a re-building plan of its main church building.

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Designed with a distinctive Modern style, the new double-storey building consisted of a prayer hall on top of a large function room. It also possessed an unique vertically protruding roof that looked like a ship’s prow, and a tall concrete bell tower that was erected beside the main chapel.

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Also, after the war, St Matthew’s Church carried out plans to, expand its premises, including the construction of a vicarage and a kindergarten was also built in the early fifties.

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The new kindergarten was designed in simple Art Deco-style; it had a sloping roof laid with terracotta Marseilles tiles and timber windows with louvers.

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Color pictures Leica M262 ; B&W pictures Leica M4 with Kotak TMAX 100.

Wide angle Summicron 28mmF2 Asph ; normal lens Summicron 50mm F2 type V

St Matthew’s Church – Neil Road