Posts Tagged ‘architecture’

Imperial War Museum North

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

I have wanted to go to the Imperial War Museum since I first visited Manchester in 2007 and I finally had the opportunity to go on the Monday bank holiday. The building sits proudly on the edge of Salford Quays competing in an “impressive building battle” across the Manchester Ship Canal with the Lowry theatre. While I do love the Lowry, Daniel Libeskind’s angular structure just excites me a little bit more. Libeskind also designed the Jewish Museum in Berlin, a building that brought me to tears when I visited it in 2007. The design of the Jewish Museum space with high ceilings, sharp cornered rooms and fantastic use of natural light so cleverly emphasises the horrible story of the holocaust and it made a huge impact on me. This emotional reaction instantly returned as I walked into the Imperial War Museum and saw similar design elements repeated in the building. It’s incredible the affect good architecture and design can have.

Imperial War Museum North

Imperial War Museum North

As you walk around looking at the displays, every 15 minutes or so presentations exploring war-based subjects are projected on every wall within the large exhibition space. The room goes dark and the space becomes a multi-screened movie theatre. The quality of the projects was brilliant – none of the images were out of alignment (a personal hate of mine) and you felt like you were part of the show. It was very clever and very well executed.

Exhibition space

Exhibition space

There is a viewing platform at the top of the building that delivers views over Salford Quays. The lift up to the top sounded like it was in need of repair but the space at the top was great – somewhat open to the elements, those with a fear of heights may not appreciate the view through the slits in the floor down to the ground.

A great view from a cage

A great view from a cage

I will definitely be returning to spend some time in one of the best spaces in Manchester. And so should you. Go there. Now.

I Do Like Manchester. Really.

Monday, March 25th, 2013

I have had it brought to my slightly one-sided attention that my previous entry was very anti-Manchester, which I honestly didn’t mean for it to be. But I have had a “I’m so lonely” day today so my view on the world is somewhat negative. My sincere apologies to Manchester – I really do like you! I am going to make up for my previous rant with a TOP FIVE GREAT THINGS ABOUT MANCHESTER entry! Ready? Go!

  1. People are FRIENDLY here. It is remarkable – people smile, are polite, laugh, provide you with additional information when you don’t even ask etc. I am yet to feel like I am wasting someone’s time/generally annoying someone by asking them to do a job they are being paid for. Pure brilliance.
  2. I could finally quench my intense craving for fish and chips. A few months ago I smelt fish and chips in Paris which is impossible because they don’t have it. But since that moment I have wanted, desperately, to have deep fried fish with delicious fat chips. AND I NOW HAVE! Sadly it was served with mushy peas which are seriously, seriously disgusting and I love everything green.
  3. The buildings. There’s something about an ex-warehouse/factory building that has been turned into apartments or a pub that really excites me. The big brick facades, chimneys and large open interiors are fantastic. And I’m living in the heart of the industrial revolution! Plenty of mills and factories here.
  4. Pub food. Hooray for pies, roast lamb and sticky toffee pudding! People say that British food is bad, but they clearly have never had a good roast.
  5. Access to the great outdoors. In the past two weeks I have managed to spend a fair amount of time walking through the countryside. It is so close and accessible (when trains are running) and breathtakingly beautiful. The English countryside offers, in my opinion, some of the most beautiful scenes in the world.

And that, my friends, is why I am very pleased to be living here.

Going Inside the Giant White Bubble

Friday, October 28th, 2011

For a few months I have wanted to go to an exhibition being held at the Institut du Monde Arabe. The glass fronted building of the institute is impressive in itself, however there has been a large white bubble-building in the front courtyard that has intrigued me. I finally got around to visiting the exhibition this week as it closes at the end of the month.

Institut du Monde Arabe

The wall of the Institut du Monde Arabe

The exhibition focuses on the work of Iraqi architect, Zaha Hadid, and is located inside a moveable building designed by Hadid herself. The building is organic in shape – like a freeform bubble – and has been designed to be moved and relocated as the exhibition moves between cities. The exhibition had already been shown in New York and Tokyo and yet the quality of the materials and the solidity of the building made it difficult to believe that it was transportable.

Zaha Hadid building


The exhibition itself was a bit disappointing. Its key focus was the way in which Hadid’s architectural firm is redesigning the concept of a skyscraper – turning it from being an individual entity that is designed to impress and stand out, to amalgamating towers into the surrounding landscapes to produce a more useable space. The exhibition had examples of the company’s work and highlighted some of the techniques used, however, like most ‘conceptual’ exhibitions, the audio guide merely prattled on about modernity concepts of space and how towers were symbols of power blah blah blah. While that is all very interesting and so forth, I didn’t come away feeling like I really knew what Hadid’s motivations were and how she managed to get from being a female in Iraq to running a multi-million dollar architectural firm in London. Plus the examples of her work were all current works that were either recently or near completion. I couldn’t gauge a sense of progress, development or future aspirations. Pity.

Luckily the building the exhibition was showcased in was so wonderful. It allowed for a very easy flow within the space and the exhibition was clearly designed to fit within the area. What was also interesting was that it was France-specific, with information about buildings that Hadid is designing in Marseille and Montpellier. Clearly as the exhibition moved between cities, the exhibits would change somewhat to highlight what was more relevant to that country.

The Rain in Spain Falls Mainly at Night

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

I am back from a six-day trip to Madrid and am ready to jump back on the plane and jet back to that amazing city. On the plane trip home I wrote a 12 page entry in my diary that I am now going to type up in sections and post on here so that you can see why exactly I am now obsessed with Madrid. Ready for some reading? GO!

The City

I am writing this on the plane from Madrid to Paris. It is a Ryanair flight and so far neither wing has detached.

Ryan air

Safety First.

I have so much I want to say about Madrid. It has made a big impact on me. I always love discovering new cities but there was something really special about Madrid. It has always been on my list of places I must visit in my life time and now it is on my list of favourite cities for entirely different reasons. I expected a bustling, busy, hot, crazy city where people rush around, honk horns, yell and party hard. Instead I found a relatively peaceful city that you can walk the length of (the main central city area at least) in less than an hour. The people were generally relaxed and ridiculously friendly. The architecture was colourful and eclectic – a mix of new and old with a lot of blue, white and orange tiles left over from when the Moors were in charge.

A building in Madrid

A building in Madrid


Pretty tiles

It was easy to walk around and navigate – everything joined to the next square and it was easy to work out where you were. People rose late in the morning and went to bed in the wee hours – the day seemed to operate between 10am and 2am.

Ship Trippin’

Monday, March 15th, 2010

I have no interest in boats, ships, water vessels. I’d maybe raise an eyebrow if someone offered me a ride in a tug boat but that’s purely for the name. The tug would have to be painted white and blue with a splash of red for me to get excited. So when my male companion asked if I would like to go with him to see the Queen Mary in Fremantle, I screwed up my nose and said “No thank you. Take your Dad.” But I eventually felt bad and was offered lunch as a reward so I decided to give in.
If there’s one thing that attracts more people to arrive en masse, drive badly and loiter than an ACDC concert, it’s the presence of a largish boat named after a forgotten member of the Royal Family. Perhaps if I had seen it arrive or leave I might have been more impressed but COME ON! It wasn’t even that big! It only appeared to be large because the Fremantle Port is so small. Compared to other cities the ship pulls in at, arriving at Perth must have been a huge disappointment. No wonder it only stayed for a couple of hours.

The Queen Mary

Compared to the other boats, I guess it is pretty big.

I was amazed by the number of people who were pouring into Fremantle to check out the ship. Although, that said, there was also the Chilli Festival and the Fremantle Dockers’ Family Day which would have been drawing crowds. But the reaction from the crowd looking at the boat made me I remember how Perth is just a big country town – any little thing can be very exciting.

Queen Mary lifeboats

Safety first.

I think I annoyed my boyfriend by being more interested in the refurbishment of the Wool Sheds and the crusty paint on the “International Backpackers” nearby. I’m sure the hoity-toity folk coming off the ship were wishing they could stay there for the night.

Fremantle backpackers

Five-star accommodation with harbour views