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Oscar Niemeyer

The architect of Brazil’s capital, Brasilia, a riot of modernist buildings, and much more besides – including the UN building in New York – Oscar Niemeyer, has died.

The civic buildings in Brasilia are stunning architectural statements, still futuristic in form, some of them even spaceship-like. Whether they succeed on a human scale is another matter and Brasilia has been criticised as being not easy to live in without a car but, nowadays, that stricture could equally be applied to cities and towns with more conventional architecture.

Images of Brasilia along with other designs by Niemeyer can be found here.

Oscar Niemeyer 15/12/1907 – 5/12/2012. So it goes.

York Art Deco 5.

This is Specsavers, York. I forget which street it was on. The windows still look original!

Specsavers, York

Waterstones: mainly for the windows. The upper ones seem to have been replaced at some time.

Waterstones, York

This is the south entrance to a modern retail outlet building with an Art Deco style exterior. It’s just off the A 19 Selby Road, York.

Retail Outlet off Selby Road, York

There were some nice deco style pillars to the left of the entrance.

Art Deco Style Pillars

All my Art Deco pictures of York are on my flickr.

Striking Architecture

One strange thing we learned about Chester is that it’s in Wales – in the televisual sense at least. Button 4 on the remote in the B&B had S4C and Channel 4 was on button 8. I think the border is actually right on Chester-€™s outskirts but it still seemed strange.

We left Chester and headed east to view some modern architecture. I took the A56 because I was fed up with motorways and knew the road passed close to our destination.

As a result of this we travelled through Altrincham, Sale and Stretford, encountering quite a few Art Deco cinemas, shops and houses on the way but I have no pictures as I was driving.

At Salford we were directed down Matt Busby Way past the Theatre of Debts Dreams and on to Daniel Libeskind’s building for the Imperial War Museum North. This photo was taken from across the Manchester Ship Canal.

Imperial War Museum North.

The first thing I noticed on getting out of the car in the car park I instantly recognised as a Soviet designed tank. (The good lady wondered how I knew but they’re just so distinctive.) It’s in desert camouflage since it’s a T-55 as used by the Iraqi army and was captured by British forces during the second Gulf War.

Tank outside Imperial War Museum North

There’€™s a T-34 inside the museum. (When I see Second World War footage of those I always think they look like Daleks. It’€™s probably the way the gun sticks out.) Also among the exhibits are a Harrier Jump Jet – which had to be craned in before the roof was put on – a gun turret from a Wellington bomber – tiny inside – and a German floating mine laid at Scarborough in World War 1.

The building’€™s shape and form were explained by the tour guide (from whom we got a hug: but don’€™t get your hopes up – she went to school with our younger son’€™s girlfriend, and we’€™d met before.)

The unusual shape is based on a fragmented world with three shards representing Earth, Air and Water – the three arenas for war. Apparently there was to be a fourth symbolising Fire – highly appropriate to war, as well as matching the four ancient Greek Elements -€“ however, the project’€™s funding didn’€™t permit that. The audio visual displays projected onto the inside walls are very effective.

We spent four hours inside and wondered where the time had gone. It’€™s well worth a visit.

A spot of lunch (late) and then over the Ship Canal to the Lowry, designed by Michael Wilford and started in 1997. We were told the building is supposed to resemble a steamship. My photo is a stitch of two taken from the War Museum side.

The Lowry Salford

More details are on the Lowry website.

There were lots of Lowry paintings, of course -€“ some not of matchstalk men: mostly the early ones before his style settled. In “€œGoing To The Match”€ he captures perfectly that stooped-over walk men used to have when walking to a football match. Others of the pictures show this stooping too, though, so maybe it’s a Northern England thing.

There are some of Lowry’€™s landscapes here too but none was as good as his riverscape that we saw in the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery in Glasgow.

We then spent some time in the Lowry Retail Outlet just across the plaza.

The area has been cleaned up since it was industrial. There were scullers taking advantage of the calm water. The new BBC premises in Manchester are under construction a stone’€™s throw away off a branch of the Canal. (See the cranes in the photo above.) I hope from the outside that will be more interesting than the vast shoe box they recently built in Glasgow – which is stunning inside instead; but that’s a bit pointless really.

The footbridge across the Ship Canal between the two museums is interesting as it’€™s on a lift; or rather two lifts – a kind of modern equivalent of the Transporter Bridge at Middlesbrough. There’s a photo on the Lowry site of it raised to allow a ship through.

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