Should the Euston Arch be rebuilt?

Discussion in 'London and the South East' started by _pH_, May 18, 2009.


Should the Euston Arch be rebuilt

  1. Back to the past! I like Grecian arches!

  2. Back to the future! In a space age styleee!

  3. Couldn't give a toss as long as the trains run on time

  4. comedy option/i <3 kittehs!

  1. teuchter

    teuchter je suis teuchter

    I didn't say it was coincidental - I said the opposite. A straightforward construction system, used to the same end, several cenuries apart: of course there's going to be a resemblance.

    Why did Holden express the beams in that way? You ask that question as if his choice to express structure is in some way a result of his classical training. The expression of structure is by no means exclusive to classical or historical architecture. In fact classical architecture is arguably largely about faking-up structure. Many of its motifs are derived from timber architecture and have little relevance, in a structural sense, to the way one builds in masonry.

    Holden chose to express the roof structure because he wanted to. A few decades later Rogers & Co decided to express the structure of the Pompidou centre because they wanted to:


    "Fetish for glass and steel" is yet another cliche - what is that supposed to mean, actually? Do you think all contemporary architects have an urge to make everything out of glass and steel? Or do you think it might be something to do with the practicalities of building large structures (which obviously tend to be the most noticeable ones)?

    Yes they are.

    In some cases it is ideological, in some cases it is practical.

    This just seems to illustrate the confusion in these discussions: imitating the past is a completely different thing to conserving it.

    I'd put money on the vast majority of modern, even modernist, architects having a much greater respect and love for true historic buildings than the average member of the public.
  2. teuchter

    teuchter je suis teuchter

    You go and do five years in an architecture school and then tell me that doing studio design work and defending it in front of crit panels (usually including practising architects, and sometimes non-architects) is "theoretical"! It is time to practise the most important bit of the architect's job - designing stuff - and make and learn from your mistakes before going and inflicting them on real-life people. Designing crap, and getting away with it, is fairly easy to do in a dull commercial practice - less so in a decent architectural school.

    The hands-on stuff happens when you start working (as well as during the year(s) out of work experience that nearly all students do as part of their training) - there are arguments to say that five years is too long to spend at school (maybe) but if you were to abandon the principle of giving space for a bit of experimentation free of the banalities of office practice, I'm quite certain that the overall standard of architecture produced in the UK would not improve.
  3. teuchter

    teuchter je suis teuchter

    I don't know; I get the impression he seems to be able to provide that wallpaper in a fairly competent way. This thread has made me think that maybe I should take some time to go and have a look at some of his stuff in the flesh, and see if I can come to a slightly more informed point of view.
  4. lang rabbie

    lang rabbie Je ne regrette les gazebos

    A trabeated Grecian roof structure?

    There is nothing remotely "medieval" about it:confused:
  5. teuchter

    teuchter je suis teuchter

    I think he is meaning this kind of thing -

  6. Azrael

    Azrael circling Airstrip One

    This is true enough. Not that modernism is guiltless in this: despite its "form follows function" doctrine, its best practitioners aren't rigid functionalists.

    Perhaps Holden didn't mean to evoke great halls, but the fact that he plastered over the structure in some other stations makes me think the choice was deliberate, especially given the height of the ceiling at Oakwood. There's no practical reason I can see to give it those proportions. It isn't one element in isolation but the effect of the whole. Mr Roger's Pompidu Centre (which I quite like, BTW) doesn't have those echoes.

    As for the glass and steel, yes, it's a cliché, but clichés arise from truth. I've seen the practical case made for glass as the best material to hang from steel-frames, but given the expensive climate conditioning systems many such buildings have to employ, and that brickwork survived long after we invented steel framed buildings, I'm not convinced. I think its an aesthetic choice first and foremost.

    You hit the nail when you say modernist architects have regard for "truth historic buildings". What on earth is a "true" historic building? Medieval Gothic, Victorian Gothic, or both? You only talk of "true" historic buildings if you think historicism is outdated, which is what I'm against. Why should Mr Rogers be so passionate about stopping a new building in a historic style going up? If he really had regard for old buildings, he'd respect the continuation of their style, not its taxidermy.
  7. lang rabbie

    lang rabbie Je ne regrette les gazebos

    Take a C2C or District line train to Barking Station, which was reconstructed in 1961, and then imagine what virtuoso concrete engineering of that quality could have achieved at Euston compared to the blandness of what we actually got.

    [Although removing all those back-illuminated adverts that were crudely bolted onto the upper walls ten years ago would certainly help Euston look a bit less crap.]
  8. Azrael

    Azrael circling Airstrip One

    Mr Terry's personal abilities are really by the by here. It's about styles, not individuals. The point is that there should be many people like Mr Terry, but there aren't. I will say this for Mr Terry's abilities: as Brentwood and his Cambridge work show (I've visited both) he goes far beyond wallpaper.

    What about Mr Terry's old boss Raymond Erith?


    As for Oakwood, I didn't say it resembled a medieval hall because it happened to be trabeated instead of arcuated, or anything like that, but because it's general proportions, taken with the roof, appear to reflect one.
    And if "theoretical" were a synonym for easy, you've be right, but it isn't. Presentation might teach practical skills in debating but the underlying teaching you describe is theoretical. It becomes practical when it's actually built, not when it's peer-reviewed by glowering architects.

    I'm sure it's a false choice between five years' and apprenticeship from the off. What about a shorter academic element, split with practical experience from the beginning?

    On whether historicism is built, I'm going on what Mr Terry described. How were you taught it?
  9. teuchter

    teuchter je suis teuchter

    For me a "historic building" is one that says something about the time it was built (often a wide span of years in the one building).

    Medieval gothic buildings tell us something about the way we lived at that time, and the great cathedrals are a record of the engineering sophistication they somehow managed to achieve without most of the tools we have.

    Victorian gothic is something else again - it tells us something about the Victorians' curious obsession with the past despite their technological advances, and the competing styles of classical revival and gothic tell us a little about their ideological preoccupations. From a building/engineering point of view maybe it shows off their skills in brickwork, or in ironwork.

    A Quinlan Terry building isn't historic because it doesn't tell us anything about history. All it tells us is what historical styles its architect is into.

    Maybe it will have historic value in 200 years - who knows. Perhaps they will laugh at us, chuckling about how we were still imitating 2000-year old building technology. Perhaps they will admire the last gasps of classicism before it was eradicated by the fascist modernist architects of the mid-21st century. But at the moment it is no more "historic" than any other building built just now. Certainly, I'd put my money on its importance in the history of architecture being a lot less than any of Rogers' better works.

    That would be my idea of what a "true" historic building is and isn't, anyway.

    Maybe he considers good architecture more important and worthy of promotion than "looks like old" architecture.
  10. Azrael

    Azrael circling Airstrip One

    Hold up, you said Mr Rogers respects old buildings. Presumably it's because he thinks they're good. Yet any new building in that style is automatically bad? This makes no sense. Using this logic, the old buildings would never have been built, since they're obviously not historic when they go up. You can find endless tracts from the Victorians moaning about "vulgar" railway (or railroad) stations and so on.

    You say Mr Terry's buildings tell us nothing, when they clearly tell us about the current battle between historicism and modernism, just as the Victorians tell us about the "curious" combination of modernity and tradition. (Nothing curious about it in my view.)

    And exterior battles of ideology aside, what happened to a building being worthwhile in aesthetic terms alone? Why does it need to "tell us" anything? If form follows function, and a new classical building is fit for purpose -- as the library at Downing is -- then, by modernism's own terms, it's a success.
  11. teuchter

    teuchter je suis teuchter

    No, designing stuff is a practical skill, and design studio projects are a way of teaching practical skills in design - the most fundamental skills needed to produce good architecture. There are further practical skills that need to be added to this - skills best learnt in an office - to give you the knowledge to actually produce fully buildable stuff but the fundamental design skills are always there in the background.

    Well, there are arguments being made for that at present. I'm not sure - it's a hard thing to determine.

    The main problem with practical experience is that it depends totally on who you do it with. In some instances, it may be extrememly valuable and possibly more useful than any teaching recieved in an academic setting. In some instances the reverse is true.

    Architectural history is generally taught as a lecture course which covers all the main stylistic movements, their main features and the reasons for their development. Usually there are measured drawing excercises where old buildings are measured and drawn up in detail. Those with a particular interest can often make the study of a historic building the subject of a dissertation or whatever.

    As with anything if you have a particular interest in, say, classicism, you can go and look at Palladio's books of architecture, and if you see fit, use what's in there to inform your design work. As is equally true for any other historical style, or traditional building method.
  12. Azrael

    Azrael circling Airstrip One

    Designing is indeed a practical skill, but the end product -- the design -- is theoretical. An architect has practical knowledge when one of his or her designs has been built and proved fit for purpose, or when she or he has participated in the building of someone else's design. It could be a superb design but end up a failure once built.

    Any apprentice scheme or vocational placement would of course have to select the architect carefully.

    I'm glad to hear that historicism on architecture courses has improved since Mr Terry's days, or is better at your school. How were people who wanted to design in a historical style treated? Were their designs rewarded on their merits, or automatically failed as Mr Terry's were?
  13. teuchter

    teuchter je suis teuchter

    You'd have to ask Mr Rogers about his thoughts on any specific case. I don't know whether he would say any new building in a "historic style" is "automatically bad". I wouldn't, necessarily.

    Also - part of the value of old buildings is that they are old. An ancient building can have relatively little special architectural merit in relation to its contemporaries, but have historic value due to, say, it being one of few surviving examples of a style or technique.

    The Victorians put up plenty of fairly rubbish buildings.

    Tell us nothing in historical terms. They don't tell us anything much about the history of the buildings they are imitating.

    Of course they tell us something about current times. In the same way that teenage pregnancy rates tell us something about current times. So what? That doesn't make them good or bad.

    Again, I was talking about how I would assess the value of "historic" architecture. Not how I would assess the worth of a newly built building.
  14. teuchter

    teuchter je suis teuchter

    It's getting late ... I'll have to come back to this tomorrow. There's no doubt that there are all sorts of prejudices in architectural schools which I could go on about at length. But - like I say, I'll have to come back to this.
  15. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

    Trouble is that an awful lot of modern buildings are unlikely to last as long as their Victorian predecessors because they're knocked out so ruddy cheaply.
  16. Azrael

    Azrael circling Airstrip One

    True, as do all ages, and unlike Mr Robin Hood Gardens, I'm happy for failures in a style I generally like to be pulled down if they haven't had the good manners to fall down.

    I wasn't treating historical style and historical significance as the same thing. You're right in saying that the historical significance of contemporary buildings can't be immediately known. That's not what I was referring to; rather, I'm asking how a contemporary building in a historic style is somehow less authentic than one built over a century ago. In short, the view that technology has made historic styles obsolete.

    A historicist building continues and refines a tradition that goes back for centuries. It makes history into living history. History is a pact between the dead, the living, and the yet unborn, as Edmund Burke phrased it. What better way is there to respect the past than to ensure it has a future?
  17. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

    The plans to rebuild the arch continue!

  18. Azrael

    Azrael circling Airstrip One

    £1 billion, and they only rebuilt the thing 40 odd years ago!

    That William Wiles can thunder on about "militant nostalgia" in the New Statesman is reason enough to put the great doric back up again.
  19. Belushi

    Belushi 01 811 8055 R.I.P.

  20. paolo

    paolo Well-Known Member

    I took a few moments to think about that and I agree - and I'd add... I think Euston suffers the way that other places have. An infestation of retail - inside and out - has ruined the sightlines. Which were arguable not ideal to start with.

    Internally I'd remove all but essential free standing units. Add one or two more seating areas, each with it's own departure panels in view (so many people at Euston are just standing looking at the main boards).

    I'd put all but core retail on a balcony tier. 'Core retail' (snack food, newsagents, chemists) on the sides. No retail on the platform back wall, where it currently adds to congestion in the platform-dash.

    At the front, I'd have double height glass. With good internal lighting, this would act as a sightline beacon for people approaching on foot. Augment with a single station sign on top of that, I.e. High up. Reduce or eliminate the 'Island' retail units outside. Make it more of a plaza.

    Add another undergound access route so the tube would have an entrance outside on that plaza. (I suspect the taxi pick up could make that difficult?)

    Oh and get rid of the low rise commercial block that really obfuscates the frontage and reduces the feeling of space and view to the gardens, in the current plaza.
    Greebo and Belushi like this.
  21. teuchter

    teuchter je suis teuchter

    I passed through Euston the other day and noticed that they seem to be tidying up the advertising boards and also constructing a balcony along the entrance side of the msin hall. Didn't have time to stop and look properly but they could be positive changes. Although i won't be surprised if the balcony structure is naff like the one they did at Waterloo.
  22. paolo

    paolo Well-Known Member

    I originally agreed with your opinion on Waterloo - that the obscuring of the original sweep was detrimental.

    Now I think it's a good move. If you can't move the retail (which can be argued), punt it above.
    Greebo likes this.
  23. DrRingDing

    DrRingDing 'anti-human wanker'

    Euston station is distressingly ugly.

    The whole place is crying out to be torn down.
  24. paolo

    paolo Well-Known Member

    I reckon its fixable.

    Then again, I'm playing fantasy architecture. Like blokes with train sets who'll say "Oh, you just need to resolve the pathing issue at Willesden" and with a waft of their hand, they've created transport utopia. :)
    Greebo, equationgirl and DrRingDing like this.
  25. DrRingDing

    DrRingDing 'anti-human wanker'

    Euston has such huge potential, there's so much space.

    At the moment it's not much better than a 1960s public toilet.
  26. The39thStep

    The39thStep Well-Known Member

    There are two great beer and cider outlets where the arch used to be
    Greebo, IC3D and QueenOfGoths like this.
  27. Bungle73

    Bungle73 I was there, now I'm here Banned

    That's not where the Arch used to be. On the Dan Cruikshank programme from the '90s, where he went in search of the remaining stones, they located the original position of the Arch as being just in front of the present platforms, which seems to be about right judging from the historic London maps I possess.
    Greebo likes this.
  28. Bungle73

    Bungle73 I was there, now I'm here Banned

    The Euston Arch exhibition is now open

    davesgcr, Greebo and blossie33 like this.
  29. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

    Thanks - that's reminded me to post up my photos of the not-exactly-impressive remains of the arches.
  30. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

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