Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The good, the bad and the staggeringly ugly

It's over thirteen years since I left The University of Nottingham as a young postdoc to take up a position at an observatory on Mauna Kea but I'm lucky enough to still have links to the place. I collaborate with a group there that works on several areas in astrophysics with a strong interest in the interstellar medium. In other words, the stuff between the stars which ultimately is where we all come from.

One of the benefits of this collaboration is that I'm able to return to Nottingham once in a while to work on the odd project or two and that was partly the reason behind my recent trip to the UK. During the visit I was able to take up an offer of a quick tour of the university's new campus in the city, the Jubilee Campus, which didn't exist when I lived and worked there previously. I was told that I might find the architecture "interesting" and I certainly did!

The old campus I used to know is still the same and possibly the most beautiful in the UK depending on your taste. It's a parkland campus with several very old buildings mixed with some rather ugly ones built in the 50s and 60s, but the grounds are stunning and I'll post the odd picture or two of them soon (although I already have in a recent post).

One nice thing about the new Jubilee Campus is the wildlife that they've clearly made a big effort to attract and keep there. Although its lake is artificial much of it has been left in a natural state which attracts birds such as the heron above. This is good.

The architecture on the other hand, is bad. Well, some may disagree with me, but I didn't like it, the buildings just didn't look right especially when you have a campus nearby with some stunning old buildings.

Despite the sign, this is the library. The one good thing about it is that I was able to walk onto the artificial island and take the photo of the heron above!

This is the entrance to the computer sciences building. Interesting but again strangely out of character for the university. Maybe I'd grow to love it if I still lived there, I don't know, but for now I think it's bad. Those odd things at the top are apparently cooling towers. Very nice.

Finally, just what were they thinking? The building below is so horrendously ugly and garish that whoever designed and built it was surely on a dare or perhaps something more insidious? How could anyone possibly think this thing looks good? It's a lego building on steroids and I pity anyone who has to work there every day - I'd feel like throwing up each morning I arrived for work. Do health and safety provide special sunglasses for the occupants or anyone unfortunate enough to pass by outside?

Even my panorama stitching software couldn't cope with combining these two pictures. I can't blame it. The error it threw up was a little confusing and technical but reading between the lines I think it said "you're kidding, this is too garish, I'm not dealing with this monstrosity, go and take another sunset picture or something".


Zuzana said...

I kinda like the architecture. I think they were trying to integrate the buildings with the nature.;) I definitely love the red.;)

Keera Ann Fox said...

I'm with Protege. I live in a neighborhood of low apartment buildings, not a one of which dared to deviate from the shape of a rectangle or "natural" colors. After they were refurbished and got colors, the lumps looked far more interesting and less intrusive. If you've got to have a large block that just sits there, may as well spruce it up with a bit of color. I guarantee you that red dragon (of a building) would be far uglier in plain beige!