The Tricorn Centre
is coming down, finally. Portsmouth's most radical building - and some say the most hated structure in Britain - is due for demolition in March. The site will fester for a few months (years?) as a car park, before being turned into the snappily-named Northern Quarter
. The building has had a stay of execution before, but this might finally be it.
When I first started writing about the Tricorn Centre about six years ago there was scant information and even less enthusiasm. The received wisdom was that this was a monumental white elephant, an architectural blunder universally loathed since its exception. To a certain extent this is true (see the timeline
): some stores were never let, the design proved tricky to police and British weather brought out the worst aspects of the concrete construction.
In the past couple of years or so a number of websites relating to the building have sprung up: a sure sign of renewed public interest. See shopping in the sixties
(at the excellent fifties and sixties
and its sister site seaside history
), several pages of photographs
, even more photos at garfnet
, the cheery Proles for Modernism
(which aims to save the building), the local council's page on Tricorn history
and the excellent set of links and information from The Portsmouth Society
Proles for Modernism
have a point: it's a bold utopian statement
, the likes of which are nearly impossible to replicate at a time when shopping centres are systems-built, empty vessels given character and life only by the brands which inhabit them. PforM aim 'to undermine the aesthetics of consumption by consuming aesthetics', suggesting that the public realm needs a certain degree of challenging abstraction. Their argument, fringed with mythological and pagan beliefs, is that the building is a 'machine for revolution' in that it 'negates bourgeois culture. It puts people off shopping
' (my italics).
Perhaps this is the Tricorn's problem: a resolute anti-commercial appearance. The building never functioned as an attraction
, but as another component of the city, even a small city-state in its own right with its own flats and pubs. Compare it to Portsmouth's other main shopping centres, both of which post-date the Tricorn. The Cascades
and the more recent Gunwharf Quays
are 'destinations.' The former offers 'shopping without the weather', and the latter offers the 'ultimate waterfront destination' (and is the location of the half-finished Spinnaker Tower
). These are modern shopping centres, places to spend a whole day, to eat, to watch movies and, above all, to buy. The Tricorn's streetscapes were meant to be used like just another part of the city, a zone of passing, looking and experiencing, engaging with consumption and consumerism, but not, in any way, being overwhelmed by the experience. I suspect it'll be missed once it's gone.
Some other things. The nominations for the 2004 bloggies
are up and awaiting your votes. As ever, clicking on the unknown is informative: shiny plastic bag
, chocolate & zucchini
, and, from the criminally overlooked category, broken type
. Elsewhere, some more well-designed personal websites that have caught our eye like diamonds in the rough: accidental
, a large head
(with excellent photos
publishes an incredible gallery of Brasilia
photographs by Michael Wesely
, who specialises in long exposures / No Sense of Place
celebrates Tintinís 75th anniversary
/ play classic Sim City
online / artistís studios
, via the cartoonist
/ big, arty gif
/ game girl advance
muses on the virtual simulation of familiar places Ė or recognising your home town in computer games.
The weird world of Jani Kaunisto
, via Ella Guruís Voodoo kitchen
, who also links to goose diapers
, this virtual guitar
and the photography of Alison Wonderland
(including a great music section
) / more snow!
/ cooking with spices
, the amazing collective knowledge harness that is ask me-fi
once again comes up trumps.