A3 planning and preparation

At the start of this section it was stressed that while buildings and man-made spaces are the subject, this is not about architectural photography. Instead it is about structures as an extension of human activity and as being “usable”.  I spoke to my friend’s son, Simon Mitchell, a Part I graduate of the Manchester School of Architecture.  He tells me “architecture is simply an idea manifested as reality and therefore can only dictate to some extent, the way we use the spaces, (in other words it doesn’t come with a manual on how people should use it!)”

I found some relevant and interesting  points in the enlightening  book called ‘Non-Place’ by Marc Auge.  He writes of anthropological spaces of transience that do not hold enough significance to be regarded as “places”. Examples of a non-place would be a motorway, an interchange, an airport or a supermarket.”

Mark Auge                      Gabiel Li Gabriel Li 2007

This got me thinking about the importance of setting and how human activity may change depending on where you are. With this in mind I had the idea for  my first “building”.

Preston bus station.

“Four rows of sculptural concrete fins make up the brazenly “Brutalist” facade of Preston Bus Station in Lancashire.” [1]

Completed in 1969 by architects Keith Ingham and Charles Wilson, the 170 mt long structure became the largest bus station in Europe. The colossal scale of the structure, boasting 40 gates for double-decker buses on both its east and west sides with a four storey car park above, is seen as both the building’s greatest feature and, by some, its failing. Years of decline, thought by some to be deliberate neglect, followed.

Here is a selection of shots from my first visit to the bus station.

Architecture critic and broadcaster Tom Dyckhoff [2] said, “Even for the most mundane of activities, such as catching a bus or eating a pie in the station’s cafe,  architecture is at its most meaningful and heroic when it celebrates like this, the seemingly ordinary and everyday bits of time that connect us all.”  

DSC_2316 My image hints at the fact that twenty-first century commuters are more likely to buy “coffee to go”. This chap was the only customer seated in the cafeteria.

Fashion Shop 1913 August macke

Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus school of art (1919-1933), supported that an object’s design should be dominated by its function – simple forms, clean lines, rationality and, of course, functionality.  The Bauhaus was in some ways a reaction against Expressionism (predominantly 1905-1925). The Expressionist movement wanted to paint about emotion. It could be anger, fear or peacefulness. This wasn’t a completely new idea in art. Other artists like Van Gogh (1853-1890) had already painted in the style. But, it was the first time this style of art was formally recognised                                                                           and given a name.

“Form follows function” was coined by American architect Louis Sullivan (1856-1924). In 1896 Sullivan wrote: “It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things superhuman, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law.” [3]

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), who was then Sullivan’s assistant, adopted the phrase “form follows function”. The Guggenheim Museum, New York, completed in 1959, is a good example. It’s spiral shape was intended to allow visitors to easily view the artwork within.

Guggenheim 1     Guggenheim 3

Guggenheim 2

Some other ideas……

Brockholes Nature Reserve

When photographing Brockholes I wanted to convey the purpose of the build and how it promotes the natural surroundings to educate and inform. I particularly wanted to show  the environmental sustainability of the building materials  – an additional function.

P1100620The architect Adam Khan (b 1964) describes the arrangement of buildings and spaces as ‘an equivalence of enclosed and open rooms, forming a matrix’.  [4]

P1100683   P1100622  P1100621  P1100623

Avenham Park Pavilion.

Conishead Priory

Set within the grounds of the ancient Conishead Priory, the Buddhist community have built the magnificent Kadampa Temple. Though built according to a traditional design, it is a modern Temple that provides a peaceful respite from our otherwise busy world.

DSC_2449   DSC_2478   DSC_2462   DSC_2412 DSC_2404   DSC_2408  2  DSC_2450

Saltburn Pier

Saltburn by the Sea is a small Victorian coastal resort where the industrialists of Middlesbrough flocked at weekends to escape the dirt & grime. The building of Saltburn’s pier was entrusted to railway engineer John Anderson (1814-1886) and opened to the public in 1869. The pier, the first iron pier to be built on the North East Coast, is in an exposed position and facing due north into the unforgiving North Sea. It is the most northerly surviving British Pier.

Because Saltburn perches on top of the cliffs access to the beach and the pier (120 ft below the town) was difficult. Anderson engineered a solution by building a wooden vertical hoist. It was replaced in the late 1800’s with the now renowned water balanced Cliff Lift, probably the oldest of its type still in operation.


Corn Exchange, Leeds

Leeds Corn Exchange, a stunning Grade I listed oval building, has been a magnet for visitors for more than 150 years. Designed by world-renowned architect from Hull, Cuthbert Brodrick (1821-1905) the Corn Exchange opened in 1863. Throughout the late 19th century until the 1990’s the building was a bustling centre for the exchange and sale of corn, wheat, barley, hops, cake and flour and also was host to a farmers’ market and regular leather fair.


  1.  www.dezeen.com (12th September 2014). Brutalist Buildings, Preston bus station.
  2. Dyckoff, T. (2014) Brutalist Buildings, Preston bus station. dezeen.com.
  3. Sullivan, L H (1924). Autobiography of an Idea.  Press of the American institute of Architects. New York. Inc. p. 108.
  4. Khan, A. (2011) Brockholes Visitor Centre. architecturetoday.co.uk