Architecture

A Tale of Two Loos!

You can tell a lot about a place when you visit its more intimate corners.

I was recently caught short at Braemar Castle in the Highlands of Scotland.

Overlooking a magnificent stretch of the River Dee one could imagine a member of the royal family fly fishing in these beautiful waters. Location, location, location! The 17th century interiors were closed to us due to Covid but the downstairs, outside loo had kindly been left open by the community charity which leases the building from the Farquharson clan leader and works to maintain its fabric. They must all work very hard — in lots of places the rendering is parting from the underlying higgledy-piggledy masonry which is crumbling in the elements — one can feel the old place sucking up all the money and efforts of the volunteers that tend it!

The state of the loo said it all!

Down in Fife in the town of my ancestors (and Bill’s youth) we visited the museum and public library.

Here we enjoyed the magnificently renovated basement lavatories with their tactile, sensuous mahogany seats and splendid door furniture. All resplendent in an aura of chlorine and civic pride.

The gents was equally spectacular though my companion was reluctant to photograph the facilities. The librarian swelled with pride as we congratulated her and admitted that because it is a listed building it had been a meticulous and very expensive refurbishment (£2,500,000 from Fife Council).

Well done Kirkcaldy!

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Architecture, Art, Humour

Excited about Architecture

‘It’s the building with the huge golden knob on the top,’ said the handsome soldier recruiting in Victoria Square.  He had real leadership potential — I found it immediately — the Library of Birmingham.

He could have said, ‘the three tier cake with squiggly icing, or ‘the Spirograph Building,’ that would have found it too.

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You can’t judge a book by looking at the cover and neither can you judge a library from the outside.  Judge the inside for yourself–

And at the very top, the golden knob illuminates the whole — the hole in the bibliographic doughnut.

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Next to this enormous roof-light is the Shakespeare Memorial Library, remember we are near to the birthplace of the bard.  This has travelled through time and space and been given new life on the roof of this iconic building, designed by Francine Houben of Mecanoo Architecten and opened in 2013.

Nothing is perfect though: the glass lift was out of order, to the great relief of my lift-phobic friend, and the route to the top was through a warren of corridors, the ceiling of which I could easily touch — two meters perhaps.

‘Why so low?’ asked friend (her son is 6’8” tall).

‘Mistake!’ said I (having run out of head-room in our barn conversion), ‘Still, at least there are no beams!’

 

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