Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Architectural realism

Julia's post here reminded me of an architectural triumph at the university I went to, in St Andrews. Andrew Melville Hall, one of the halls of residence, has its own Wikipedia article, which puts it like this:

Designed in the New Brutalist style by the renowned architect James Stirling, Andrew Melville Hall was built during a major expansion of the University in the 1960s using prefabricated concrete modules. Errors in construction meant that extensive remedial work was required over several decades. Plans for further buildings to the same design were abandoned.

It is of a striking design and is situated prominently at the North Haugh on a ridge overlooking the St Andrews Links. The hall resembles passing ships, a common theme of the architect's style.

It has become an important architectural landmark and has been ranked number 12 in the top 100 Scottish buildings of the last 50 years. Despite this, many students and townsfolk continue to regard it as an eyesore.
Here's what it looks like:

Even the grass is landscaped to look like waves, every few student rooms share a small "galley" with, as I remember them, round porthole-like windows, though I can't see these on the pic above (I was in a much nicer Hall until I moved to a cottage, and rarely I visited AMH).

So, the Hall was designed like a ship and the surroundings were landscaped to look like waves. There's a reference to remedial work in the Wiki quote above. I remember that too, it was going on at the time I was there. But I think the Wiki piece is a bit unfair. The "errors in construction" were perhaps just evidence of the architect's devotion to realism.

The Hall hadn't been given adequate foundations. So it sank.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's horrible