“Stand alone” – Concrete architecture

There is something about the simplicity of concrete…the shell foundations and basic structure of a building laid bare in the landscape…its post-industrial skeletal nature rising up from the ground…colourless…fearless…standing strong creating harsh powerful shadows in its exterior and interior facades. Your brutality consumes me…your limited architectural lifespan intrigues me…why were you not finished? But at the same time, I’m glad you weren’t. I love how you look.

Two specific examples spring to mind…the first is of ‘China’s desserted fake Disneyland’  situated on the way to the Great Wall of China about 45 minutes outside of Beijing on an area of around 100 acres. It is the ruins of ‘Wonderland’ where construction stopped more than a decade ago. Give me this rather than kitsch “Disneyfication” any day…certainly a different kind of playground to its intended use. Please can I go and play here? Or at least let me daydream about it.

Image courtesy of Reuters

Image courtesy of Reuters

The other is of a building in the middle of Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB), the capital of Brunei. It has been sitting in its half-built state for over ten years, and again like with ‘Wonderland’ nobody seems to know what to do about it. On the blog where I found this building, they call it ‘hideous’ and ‘ugly’, where the building is ‘draining energy out of the city’…a little extreme if you ask me and in my opinion I think quite the opposite. Its architectural force is so intense…just look at how it rules the landscape. Its creative, future potential is endless…I wish structures actually looked more like this…raw and incomplete. As these structures stand alone in the landscape, I can’t help but stop and stare, admiring their inherent angular, linear, forceful beauty. There must be a name for these structures and this kind of architectural abandonment…

One response to ““Stand alone” – Concrete architecture

  1. I’m glad someone else has a bit of a taste for concrete! I lived in China’s grey concrete blocks for several years (on old college campuses) and became very fond of them. But I also remember learning in art history classes about early 20th century concrete architecture – and that was during the 1960s, a period when there was another spate of development in how we use it. I remember going into raptures over concrete pillars in a Birmingham underpass which had been made to leave the surface marks of the wood shuttering! Mind you, I also had a temporary job in a concrete testing laboratory at a time when they were constucting Spaghetti Junction, testing concrete that decades later revealed all its faults and weaknesses!

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