A Celebration of Underappreciated London Buildings

While sights such as London’s Brutalist Barbican, the cinematic red brick structure of Battersea Power station or Sir Norman Foster’s shiny, phallic Gherkin are well recognised architectural icons, a new show at the Design Museum looks to uncover the capital’s less-celebrated archi-treasures.

Cabmen's Shelter

Source: Photo by Theo Simpson

Cabmen’s Shelter

Opening next month, free exhibition Lesser Known Architecture – A Celebration of Underappreciated London Buildings will show photographs of ten buildings, structures and subways nominated by architecture and design critics, forming what the museum describes as ‘an alternative architectural map of the city’.

The images have been put together by design studio Mass Observation, with images shot by Theo Simpson and installation design by Ben McLaughlin. The show is curated by Elias Redstone

The single-colour offset prints images are striking in their sense of detachment, showing the architecture with little sentiment yet brilliantly showcasing sites most of us have never noticed.

The gorgeous shot of Welbeck Street Car Park, a site chosen by FAT architecture’s Sam Jacob, shows the beauty in one of London’s less glamourous locations.

Welbeck Street Car Park, 2013

Source: Photo by Theo Simpson

Welbeck Street Car Park, 2013

Designed by Michael Blampied in 1969, the structure’s angular diagrid creates a stunning, futuristic form.

The unapologetic feel of Simpson’s image of Brownfield Estate, selected by The Guardian’s Owen Hatherley has a distinctly desolate feel.

With the 26-storey Balfron Tower as its centrepiece, the estate in east London’s Bromley-by-Bow was completed in 1965.

 Brownfield Estate, 2013

Source: Photo by Theo Simpson

Brownfield Estate, 2013

Designed by modernist architect Ernő Goldfinger, the designs were inspired the ideas of Switzerland-born architect Le Corbusier, and aimed to create a structure that – pardon the pun – helped raise public perception of tall housing structures.

Goldfinger even left his plush Hampstead home to live in a 26th floor flat in the tower to help in his drive for recognition, and he and his wife greeted bemused new tenants with champagne.

Despite these efforts, the estate gradually became known for crime and antisocial behaviour, with the bleak sense of despair permeating the exhibition image.

Stockwell Bus Garage

Source: Photo by Theo Simpson

Stockwell Bus Garage

The other sites featured in the show include Islington’s Modernist housing project Bevin Court, Crystal Palace Subway and south London’s Nunhead Cemetery.

Lesser Known Architecture – A Celebration of Underappreciated London Buildings runs from  4 June ­ 22 July at the Design Museum  Café and Tank, 28 Shad Thames, London, SE1

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