Not so grand designs

Now regular readers will know I’m a bit of a frustrated architect. I love building design especially huge-scale projects like skyscrapers and massive bridges as anyone who’s checked out my tiny book collection will attest. But I also like smaller home and office stuff too because great design examples stand out like elegant fingers. Sadly the reverse is also true and our towns are full of really badly-designed or incongruously-sited buildings. I’ve done more than a few postings on these over the years. But I’ve been studying an office building they’ve been renovating across the road from us here in Twickenham and I have to tell you I’m baffled by its design.

It’s a handsome-enough if not very elegant structure dating back to the early 20th c I’d say but it’s just awkward-looking. Have a butcher’s and you’ll see what I mean …


Now it took me a few passes by before I realised what was jarring on my eye. The brick work is that yellow London style which is distinctive and the window arches are quite Italianate or Spanish style and rather appealing. It’s quite nicely proportioned, though possibly one storey too many. But it’s none of those factors that grated with me.  I realised it’s the arrangement of 6 windows across broken into a 3-1-2 formation. It sounds like Manchester United’s new defensive set-up but it’s really an odd layout for the front elevation of a building. It makes it look unbalanced. Why would the architect have chosen this design  rather than a more elegant 2 -2-2 formation? What has he gained? The entrance way looks like a badly dislocated knee. If he needed some bigger rooms couldn’t he have resolved this simply using internal walls and keeping the external look nicely proportioned  and balanced?

I know you’re probably thinking, is this the biggest thing he’s got to worry about? But I do look at things and wonder why sometimes. Is it just me?


2 thoughts on “Not so grand designs

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