online: 26 february 2006
modified: 25, 26 february 2006, 24 july 2006

25 february 2006 architecture: cave or bower

17:00 A cafe in a park. To me this building is remarkable - more a bower than a cave*, with glass all round and horizontal sun screens** near to the top of each window-wall... also the supporting structure is fully visible (as in a Gothic church or in a medieval barn with wooden struts, ties and beams visible beneath the roof)... to me this is a modest but notable example modernism: perhaps the choice of architect*** was influenced by the informed and progressive people who lived near to the heath in the 20th century and before. I am glad to be living close to some good examples of modern architecture.

Today i'm feeling inspired and released by having found a way to attend to a request to return to the world of design methods while enhancing, rather than neglecting, softopia - see design methods in 250 words and the literature on design methods.

Having completed that (after thinking i could not) i'm free now to attend to such present realities as this attractive building... the blue sky... the sunshine... andthe cold east wind weather that kept me indoors for several days...

On the way out of the park i noticed the first crocuses and snowdrops i've seen this year... the air temperature is 4 degrees Celsius with east wind chill making it feel like zero... but invigorating!... (i think brains operate better in dry and cold weather... warm and dry also... the UK is too damp for thinking!).

*J Woods Kennedy's book The House and the Art of its Design... in which the distinction between bower and cave is only one of many of his pragmatic (yet profound) observations on architecture.

**I remember well how, in the 1950s, R G Hopkinson's studies of glare from the over-fenestration of modern buildings (at what was then called th Building Research Station, at Watford, UK) led to progressive architects adding these projecting louvered horizontal sun shades near to the top of floor-to-ceiling window walls. His measurements of light intensity showed that a cloudy sky can cause more glare and dazzle than can a blue sky on a sunny day. An early example of the sometimes counter-intuitive findings of ergonomics research. Significant, i then thought, and think so now!

***I see, from a plaque,that the cafe was built (or paid for?) by the Corporation of the City of London (who own and operate many London parks outside their own territory, which is the banking and business district). I've yet to discover the architect's name****.

...i feel that my earlier life, in the design world, is reviving.

**** (later) the name of the architect, and of others involved in this design, are as follows:

Architect: Mark Lowman
Department of Technical Services, City of London Corporation

Structural engineers: Whitby Bird
Surveyor: John May
Builders: Greenwood and Routledge

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