The Weekly Review 3
In the Headlines
Ugly just got Uglier
How to get the public on your side – proclaim that a building in the city is ugly. In fact, use superlatives – Brighton’s Ugliest Building. Repeat it often and it will be the go-to parrot phrase that people pop out of their mouths. It will be music to the developer’s ears; they’ll demolished it, they might even land bank it, and eventually after much haggling with the council, they’ll probably get what they want and build it to increase their profit margin.
Anston House was once one of those ‘ugly’ buildings. Ugly because of its derelict condition. The design was no uglier than some of the newly constructed buildings now in Brighton and Hove. Once the exterior walls of Anston House were covered with, as reported in the Argus, graffiti tags and spray-painted scrawls (murals); it added to the notion of ugliness. Large areas of the city are now covered in graffiti; shall we call Brighton and Hove ugly?
Anston House was described by one councillor as a “blot on the landscape”; so, how does that councillor feel about some of the new monstrosities that have found their way via the planning committee onto the streets of your city?
The tower blocks of Anston House have been a long time coming; now the foundations are being laid after being granted permission by the 2020 planning committee, who no doubt were happy with Brighton architects Conran and Partners, responsible for the development’s generic design. Conran and Partners said it will “provide much-needed new, contemporary homes and work space within the city”. But, out of the 229 flats to be constructed, around 30 will be affordable homes, so how is this going to help those on the city’s large waiting list for homes? Furthermore, the development, set to cost £70 million to complete, is believed to give the local economy a £140 million boost, according to one economic analysis. We would love to see the calculations!
Whether this development is the result of internal machinations or a consequence of central government’s impossible demands on the local council we may never know. What we are left with are three monstrous high-rises, towing over Preston Park, replacing ugly with uglier.
Information partly sourced from The Argus
For Jean Calder, the humiliating toilet accidents of childhood remain vivid in her memory and have prompted her to speak out about the lack of clean public toilets in the city. She highlights that in Brighton and Hove, over the past three decades, public toilets have been closed. The ones we have left are in an appalling state. “We complain and nothing is done. We take this for granted”.
“Our city, which loudly claims to be “inclusive”, by its actions shows itself indifferent to the needs of residents and visitors who have the misfortune to be very young, sick or incontinent, disabled, female, pregnant, frail or elderly. Which, of course, is a large number of us.
Jean gives as an example the Pavilion Gardens toilets, which she says have for years been in a disgraceful state. “This is extraordinary because the Royal Pavilion, with the Dome and its estate, are together the jewels in Brighton’s crown. Since the destruction of the West Pier, they have no rival”.
Just recently, Jean found the women’s toilet in the Pavilion Gardens packed with small school-children, obviously on a school visit. She looked on appalled, as their harassed teachers negotiated obscene graffiti, lack of door locks, wet seats and the usual absence of paper and soap. She said she would have used the women’s disabled loo, but it had been out of order for several weeks.
“There is no elegant way to finish this piece. We who use the toilets simply don’t care who was, or is, legally responsible for the security of the gardens or the supervision and cleanliness of the toilets.
We just want those who manage our iconic historic buildings, parks and gardens, who promote the city’s tourism and who are charged with protecting our health and safety, to stop buck-passing, put their heads together and sort this out”. Say Jean.
Perhaps the council can consider how Paris has tackled their public toilet problem. The city has 400 public toilets are available in every part of the capital, and they are free to use. They are mostly open from 6am to 10pm, except for 150 of them on main roads, which are available 24/24. All these toilets are accessible to people with disabilities.
How they work: when you step inside, a sensor in the floor causes the door to close and lock. You do your business, then open the door and exit. The door closes again, the toilet is automatically cleaned and disinfected by a motorized mechanism, and a green light signals that the lavatory is ready for the next user.
These are Parisian toilets are something to aspire to, but the council probably hasn’t got the money to introduce them to the city or they might just poo-poo the idea.
Information partly sourced from Jean Calder & The Brighton and Hove News
Tweet of the Week
Film of the Week
The lost limb of Queen Victoria’s statue
Is the cleanly sliced off marble arm of Queen Victoria a result of aging and weathering, or vandalism? If the cause is deliberate why not lob off the other arm and leave the city with its own English Venus de Milo? Then the vandals can truly claim to have created a work of street art. To date it is not known how or when the damage occurred.
It was reported that a spokesman for Brighton and Hove City Council said. “We have the broken pieces in safe storage and have arranged for a local specialist to inspect the damage and provide us with a report; we plan to repair the statue as soon as is possible.”
The statue was unveiled at the opening of Victoria Gardens in the city centre for her Diamond Jubilee in 1897. It is alleged that the BHCC have confirmed that the ‘urgent’ repairs will be done by 2037 – in time for the 200th anniversary of her acceding to the throne.
The Statue was made by Carlo Nicoli from The Sculptured Marble Company.
“I am all for greening tall buildings, but I’m also very keen to note that greening a building doesn’t cope with the problem of the tall building in the texture of the city.”
Joseph Rykwert – Professor Emeritus of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania