Tuesday, 14 September 2010


Maybe it was a September thing. Newcastle this time around seemed overwhelmingly bleak: a place of monolithic grandeur, of roaring silence punctuated by the sound of the wind.

The multiple levels of the city, its bridges, walkways and steep changes of view, give it a rare sense of spatial drama ...

Owen Hatherley's description is well judged.

It strikes me that SJP is very much part of this tradition, a rare instance of bold, industrial modernism in an epoch of endemic PoMo/corporate-modernist timourousness. It might have been the brainchild of Thatcherite monsters like the Halls and Freddie Shepherd, but regardless, it's the perfect embodiment of a flamboyant, unremittingly ambitious community (much more so than celebrated recent Quayside developments like the Sage and the Millennium Bridge, I think).

A sort of inveterate, brash idealism is the common thread which unites Grainger Town, the bridges, viaducts, the sixties walkways and high rises, the Metro system, Byker Wall, the public art and slogans, the train station, Ouseburn: everything really, aside from the egregious yuppy flats of the past two decades. It's odd - or perhaps weirdly fitting - that the football stadium seems like one of the few latter-day buildings to have stayed true to the Geordie genius loci.

I particularly like the post-war modernist lettering here: an archetypically Toonian iconoclasm, but one which also hints at the continuity between neo-classical and later idioms.

Vista from the walkway outside the Gallowgate Stand at SJP. The last gasp of British modernist poetry took place in the mid-1960s, just to the left of those white buildings.

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