Columbus

Shot in Columbus, Indiana. Viewed on Columbus Day.  And I had no idea.

Columbus is a very good film.  You’ll no doubt find the story slow.  And perhaps less entertaining than you’d hope.
But you gotta go see.
Great acting. Great ethos. Great shots. Great architecture and interior design.  Drawing on extraordinary hallmarks of other great directors.
(r:9.5.; s:4, e:4, t:7 (out of 5).)
So much so, I’ve broken my already broken rating system, but in a new way. 7 out of 5 for the technical aspects.

The core of the story is a high school (check) graduate who is mature beyond her years because of her love for her mother and the support she’s given to help the mother through a drug-addiction.  She loves cooking for her mum, her home city and loves its specialist architecture.  She’s bright but is choosing to stay home to help her Mum rather than break out.  Catalyst for the breaking out from this life is the son of an architect,  who’s come to the city cos his father has fallen seriously hill.  And they develop a bond cos they can talk with each other beyond her joy in telling stories of the local buildings. And with all the potential for “drama”, not one argument, not one strop.  Such an antidote to soap operas and many films.

Now, I didn’t know about Columbus, Indiana (population 44,000).  That it’s home to many exemplary modernist buildings cos of the vision of a wealthy couple and the husband who managed a successful local engine manufacturing company.
So beautiful buildings were commissioned, from the fifties on.
Now, the controversy – cos The Guardian in reviewing the film describes the beautiful buildings as brutalist.  With my limited knowledge of architecture drawn from membership of the planning committee, I don’t think they are brutal.  Not least cos of the massive space often available to these buildings – something Nottingham doesn’t have room for; nor does modern British capitalism (e.g. Station Street).
Yet the weaknesses of the buildings restarting to come through, even in the film; the weathering showing the buildings often don’t know how to manage the rain.
So architects and planners should also go see this film, if only to take in the success and the failings.

 

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OMTRA meet to consider conservation area for the Old Meadows

20180925 1915 ML omtra conservation area 42494201_10155882076496305_5180883925198700544_oAround 50 residents met to consider how the planning system could be used to defend the defining features of the Old Meadows, in a way that every property owner would have to obey.
Using a conservation order, of which there are 32 in the city, perhaps the three strongest ideas are –
– consistency in roof tiling – most rooves to be slate or slate lookalike;
(Visit Wollaton Park Estate to see what happens when the 1930’s design code was ignored);
– requiring front boundary walls to be kept in Bulwell stone (or its Ilkeston/Alfreton lookalike);
– keeping the depth of window reveals to be consistent with original specifications.
Could usefully have explored views on allowing higher walls at the rear properties, or not. (It seems unlikely that an adopted plan would be used to require property owners. to undo changes already made, )
The boundary proposed need to be reviewed too – should the more modern eco-houses be in or not?
And what might a conservation area do for the potential development sites at the former Old Toll Bridge pub site, and at the former Collygate school site off Wilford Grove?
OMTRA are now collecting opinions and will present a summary report to a future public meeting.

Planning committee – September 2018

20180919k ab0333h Glapton Road the Meadows unauthorised building by NH_FotorAll the effort to get things right via the planning system and this extension appears on Glapton Road, in a manner alarming to local residents and without planning permission.

The relevant officer has advised “I have written to the owner today to advise that a planning application is required for the unauthorised structure.  I have … advised works cease …”

Meanwhile, at Planning committee, the Vantage building project for student flats has been improved and approved.  It’s lower than before, but it will still obscure the view of the Castle from Kirkewhite Walk as it runs alongside Queens Walk Rec.  (I asked for the matter to be fully considered before the committee met.). (See N Post report).

The office block for Station Street has also been approved after improvements to the design submitted last month – with more use of “stone” and more decoration to the front.  (I thought more work was still needed, but hey.) (See N Post report.)

Restoration of Birkin Building

IMG_9272mc0775h montage Birkin building restoration
Broadway, Lace Market.
Heritage funding is meeting part of the cost.
The brick, stone, curves and decoration are combined to make a beautiful building over 100 years ago.
Main part of the weathering of the building is the wind.
There are signs of poor maintenance, and examples of repairs such as rendering with painted brick patterns.
3 parapets(?) have had balconies removed from the top of them.

Planning committee – August 2018

MJR_TEM_090518STATIONSTREET_01
Two buildings on Station Street with distinguished fronts are proposed to be replaced with an office block.  The Civic Society and English Heritage expressed strong concerns.
It is hard to see how for instance how a hotel with Victorian standards on room heights can be re-used for the need of a modern office with expectations for higher floors and open plans.
And the device of a dark glass building to create a space between an old building and a new block is plausible.
But looking at the buildings either side, you see decoration, stronger eaves, stronger features on the floor levels.
The colonnade could define the building into thirds, and the window pattern almost reflects that although the brick pillars above the middle 2 columns are not aligned – hence the remark “bar-code windows”.
The graphics for the new building also suggested that it stood forward from the line of other buildings, which was hard to understand cos the plans show it all in line, but if it’s gonna be prominent in a street with high quality frontages, it should pay them more respect.
I’ve written this piece cos the summary of my objections published by the N Post are a tad too crude.  (And, this is not a complaint about the journalist.)
But the Planning committee worked hard to put its concerns in perspective.