10 August 2014

Pink Wall, Green Wall

A hidden disused space in the centre of Antwerp, with a pink room and a green room next to one another.

One of the things I enjoy about Antwerp is that history is everywhere as you stroll or cycle through the streets. Generally contemporary developments are of a high standard and often pretty experimental, creating an interesting dynamic when buffered up against building that may have stood for hundreds of years. 

Although Manchester is a much more exciting city than when I moved here, I get frustrated that the powers that be seem content to allow developers to rip down interesting older buildings and replace them with cheap generic blocks. We could learn a lot from the Belgians. 

There are two such buildings under threat at the moment. The first Century House is a 1930's building that looks perfectly proportioned in the streetscape with a unique relief of George Fox the founder of the Quakers on it's frontage. The other is The Cornerhouse on Oxford Street which for many decades has been an arts centre with a cinema, galleries and a great cafe. The building is late Victorian and sits quite grandly at the juncture of two major city centre roads. It is a landmark and a friendly piece of architecture that earns it's place in Manchester, and in my opinion deserves to stay.

I'm glad to say other people feel the same and so there are now campaigns to save both buildings, take a look if you'd like to contribute:

06 August 2014

Belgian Flower Monsters

Over the water from Antwerp is Linkeroever, the left bank. It is the city's frumpy, less stylish sister left looking longingly back across the river Scheldt at her hip, urban sibling. It has a unique atmosphere, due to it's wide open suburban street plan and relative lack of people. I always feel like I'm in a sci-fi film, maybe a zombie movie. So I was particularly excited to discover a new addition this summer - the Belgian Flower Monsters. These bizarre beasts aren't designed to frighten, they are meant to beautify the concrete and tarmac expanse, however to me they look like leftovers from a 1970's episode of Dr. Who.