Architectural admiration (2)

As I received enough positive feedback for the first post in this series, I have decided to compile some more, starting now. They will still be, for the moment, things I have actually seen, and stood before. The selections will continue to be varied, both chronologically, and architecturally, so please bear with me.

Fort La latte, Brittany, France.
This Breton castle is an absolute delight. Built in the 13th Century to defend the coast of Brittany from attack by the English, it is remarkably well preserved. The coastal location also provides amazing views over the sea, and it is small enough to enable the visitor to get a real feel of life for the defenders. If anyone has ever seen the 1958 film ‘The Vikings’, with Kirk Douglas (and who hasn’t?) it will be immediately familiar, as the scene of the climactic battle. I first visited this castle in the early 1980s. when staying in a gite nearby. I was entranced by it then, and I still am today.

Frinton Park Estate, Essex.
Back in the 1930s, and Art Deco houses, with no apologies. The Frinton Park Estate contains some of the best remaining Art Deco housing in England. Built in 1934, in the sedate seaside town of Frinton, on the Essex coast, this development is just breathtaking. A series of Art Deco and Modernist housing, all still occupied, and as pristine today as when they were built. I made a special trip to this sleepy town, just to enjoy and photograph these houses. I could happily live there, and if I ever win the lottery, I just might.

City Hall, London.
This building was created for the new Greater London Authority, in 2002, on land adjacent to Tower Bridge, called Potters Fields. It was designed by Norman Foster, one of Britain’s most famous architects, and though it does not have any connection with the City of London at all, it serves as the meeting place for the Greater London Assembly, and houses the office of the Mayor of London. (Though not the Lord Mayor, who is Mayor of The City). It is confusing for non-Londoners, I appreciate that!
The building stands alone, and is easily viewed from outside, or from the nearby vantage point afforded by Tower Bridge. It seems to be collapsing, as the various layers appear to be incapable of supporting its weight. This is part of the architectural genius behind the design, and serves to make it all the more appealing. (At least to me.),_London

Thiepval Memorial, The Somme, France.
Another Art Deco structure, but with a solemn difference. Opened in 1932, and designed by the marvellous architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, this is a memorial to over 72,000 British and Colonial troops killed during WW1 who have no known graves. I cannot describe the feeling of the first viewing of this memorial, one foggy day in November. It loomed from the mist, like a cathedral to the fallen, and made me stop and stare. There was a lump in my throat as I approached it, and I found it hard to speak, as I walked beneath the central arch. I cannot say a lot more, in all honesty. Few structures have ever moved me with their magnificence, and their palpable sense of importance. This is one to experience, and perhaps to feel it as I did that day.

Trellick Tower, London.
Designed by the wonderfully named Erno Goldfinger, this 1960s ‘Brutalist’ tower block was finally opened for habitation in 1972. Dominating the surrounding area in the Ladbroke Grove district of west London, it remains as one of the largest and most iconic housing developments anywhere in Europe. Love it, or hate it, you cannot ignore it. Although nominally having 31 floors, the design of the flats, many having an upstairs section, makes it a lot higher. The lift tower is separated from the main block, meaning that access is provided by a walkway, affording amazing views over London. Originally designed as a community in the clouds, it once had laundry rooms, a community centre, and its own extensive car park. Though much of this is no longer used, the tower is still a very desirable place to live, and much sought after by local residents.

Hotel Ukraina, Moscow.
Since I first saw this imposing building in 1977, it has been much improved, and re-named. Now known as the Radisson Royal Hotel, it is a five-star luxury hotel, on a par with anything on offer in the West. On the banks of the River Moskva, this amazing Stalinist edifice, opened for business in 1957, after Stalin’s death, is enough to take your breath away, with its sheer size, and belated Art Deco architecture. Like many buildings in Russia, since the end of WW2, it is enormous in scale, and built with no expense spared. Until 1976, it was the tallest hotel in the world. I haven’t seen it inside, since the redevelopment, so I can only go by the pictures available, to admire its current opulence.

Tower Bridge, London.
I did say that there would not be any Victorian Gothic architecture included in these posts, but this is an exception. Often wrongly believed to be ‘London Bridge’ by outsiders, this iconic structure is immediately identifiable with London, and unique the world over. Not only does it span the Thames, it is the first bridge visible on arrival in the city, and it also opens in the centre, to allow tall ships to pass into the Pool of London. I was brought up a stone’s throw from the south side of this bridge, and it was a part of my life for sixty years, until I moved to Norfolk. I can honestly say that I love nothing more about London, than this wonderful bridge. It looms over the nearby Tower of London, and dominates the surrounding area, in an imposing fashion. For those interested in detail, it is a bascule suspension bridge, opened in 1894, near the end of Queen Victoria’s reign. Since 1977, parts of it have been painted in red white and blue, to celebrate the jubilee of Queen Elizabeth. It houses a museum, and is one of the premier tourist destinations in the capital.
But forget all that. It is simply wonderful.

There you have seven more to consider. there will be more to come, another time. Please enjoy these, and do explore the links.

11 thoughts on “Architectural admiration (2)

  1. Pete, what a lovely tour you’ve taken us on. The Fort La Latte is spectacular,

    Take care and happy blogging to ya, from Laura ~


  2. I like your observations, Pete, and one or two places here I am not familiar with….I’m off to see a friend in Essex in the next month or two….I think I’ll do a bit of an explore and go to Frinton as well!


    1. Thanks Sue. It is close to Clacton, so please avoid that place!

      Frinton is very sleepy, and a real retirement community. Mostly inhabited by ex-Londoners, looking to die in peace! The Art Deco estate is easy to find. Look for the round house on the front, and it’s all behind that.

      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pete, you’re on a roll. Original observations and terrific writing. Some paper should hire you as their architectural correspondent.


    1. Thanks Pete. I am not so sure about the correspondent idea though, as I am currently just writing about those that I have seen. I am very glad that you are enjoying them though; more to follow! x


  4. I was only unfamiliar with the Trellick Tower and Frinton Park Estate. All of these structures are good choices. I didn’t think of bridges when offering other examples of architecture in my response to your first post, so that was a major oversight. There is a London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona that I’ve walked across a few times, by the way. You can read about it here:

    But, of course, it’s the Tower Bridge that is iconic. The only bridge of any significance around Las Vegas is the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, commonly referred to as the “Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge.” While it is visually unimpressive, its construction, which I witnessed, was a true engineering feat.

    I would really love to visit Fort-la-Latte, as I am a huge fan of “The Vikings,” a film that was a staple of the 10:30 weekend movie slot on TV during my childhood, and also one if the very first films I ever bought on DVD.

    Here is a sampling of architecture in Las Vegas:

    World Market Center:

    Former Planet Hollywood Westgate, now Hilton Grand Vacations (“Elara”)

    Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health:

    Mastro’s Ocean Club inside The Crystals:

    Las Vegas Nevada Temple (Mormon):

    Embassy Suites (Paradise Road):

    Metropolis (luxury condos):

    None of these are going to make anyone’s top ten list. But perhaps readers who have not visited Las Vegas might be interested in viewing these photographs.


    1. I still like to think that they thought that they were buying Tower Bridge! Makes for a better story, anyway. Thanks for the examples David. I really like the ‘melting’ building (Brain Institute). It’s like something Dali would have painted.
      Best wishes, Pete.


All comments welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.