Rephotography is the technique of returning to the same spot, same time of year, same lens and field of view after a elapsed time period. In November 2011, I began working on a series of images that showed London’s Olympic Park in the final stages of construction. Some were used in the Making of the Olympic Park book and others were compiled into this Olympic Park project but many, like the image above, have never been out of the archive. Seven years is enough time to look afresh at these past images and consider which locations to visit again.
I made a series of photographs of the Balfron Tower in 2015 prior to the refurbishment that is currently underway. This image, from the eastern side, shows the interlocking arrangement where the lift service tower is linked by walkways at every third floor. Given how the Balfron is scaffolded and wrapped at the moment I was rather pleased to have it to show RIBA Friends on today’s architecture walk, Concrete Futures, through Poplar. This walk sold out a number of weeks back and so I am aiming to run it again in 2019. Next stop however is the Barbican Estate photo walk on November 17th.
The Almshouses photograph is from a new set of Musicity London locations released for the London Festival of Architecture in June. The Hopton’s Almhouses in Southwark are ‘dwarfed by Neo Bankside and the Tate Modern extension and appear an architectural anomaly in the high-rise Bankside of the twenty-first century’. Musicity invites recording artists to compose tracks in response to buildings and locations in cities around the world and then nudges us to explore by making the tracks available only if we go and visit. There is more on the interplay of ideas between music and architecture and a list of all the locations (and the photographs) on the London page at Musicity.
A trip to Italy this month included a visit to the Architecture Biennale in Venice, primarily to see the Special Project exhibition on the Robin Hood Gardens estate. Going between the Biennale locations of Arsenale and Giardini meant walking through the narrow residential streets (calli) of the Castello district. It is as far away from the tourist crush, in the centre of Venice, as can be found.
The Biennale was also fairly quiet with only two other people viewing the Robin Hood Gardens; A Ruin in Reverse exhibition in the Applied Arts Pavilion. It gave a detailed history and exposition on the Smithson’s social ambition for the housing estate and an interesting commentary in a video titled ‘Vision and Value’. Searching for it online finds only this teasing loop of footage of a barge which I presume carried the concrete sections of the building that had been salvaged from East London and then re-assembled around a scaffold at the exhibition.
Instone Wharf was constructed to remove excavated London clay from the Crossrail tunnels by barge to Wallasea Island in Essex where it was used to create a nature reserve. This image is one of three recently added to my Walking the Leaway project which, with the passing of time, now seem to fit in rather well.
In future plans, the wharf is re-imagined as a terminus for a new ‘ecologically focussed’ Limmo Park, making accessible a large section of the riverine landscape after the Crossrail compound at Canning Town closes.