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Welcome to the world of the Vincent D'Onofrio obsessed - and a bit of real life thrown in.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How not to design a hospital school

The boy I home tutor was ill today, and I couldn't go and teach him. The head of the hospital school at St Thomas' Hospital asked me to go into the school instead.

As you can see from the photos, the children's hospital is brand new, and it's topped off with a glass atrium several storeys high. As it was purpose built within the last couple of years, you'd think that the architects would have designed a fabulous school within the building.

You'd be wrong. The school is a roofless sectioned off portion of the open plan third floor of the building, with nothing above it but glass. Impossible to keep warm in winter, impossible to keep cool in summer, impossible to control the echoing noise at any time. The staff work with parasols over their heads to block out the glare. Voices rise to make themselves heard over the constant din. Today they had a double bass player from one of the big orchestras playing The Elephant from Saint Saens' Carnival of the Animals. There was nowhere that you couldn't hear it.

Someone got paid lots of money to design this.

This street runs part of the way between Waterloo Station (a huge mainline railway station) and the hospital. It just happens to be the street where my paternal grandmother Kuni Hareuther, lived and worked with her uncle Paul Maar at his baker's shop before meeting and marrying my grandfather, also a baker. Not only does the building no longer exist, there isn't even a building bearing the number. The railway already existed, but I imagine the building disappeared under a widening or rebuilding of the overhead tracks.

The street where my grandparents lived out their married life in their own bakery doesn't exist any more. It was swallowed up by the huge urban flyover at the Elephant and Castle. (That's an area named after a pub that was named after a corruption of the name Infanta of Castille! It's currently defined by the flyover and a massive traffic roundabout.) "Improvements" in transport systems seem to have destroyed my family heritage.


Music Wench said...

I think sometimes people pay too much attention to what something will look like without considering the functionality. Not that it's breathtaking or anything.

Sorry to hear about old neighborhoods disappearing. I love old buildings and old neighborhoods. They have character. Modern buildings just don't.

SnarkAngel said...

What an absolutely hideous design for a school. Whoever commissioned and CHOSE this design should be stoned!

Eliza said...

Don't you just hate it when 'progress' wipes out so much of our history? I have nothing against modern architecture, but I do wish they took account of the surroundings a bit more often.Oxford is a prime example of this, btw..modern monstrosities plonked next to awesome old colleges etc

Anonymous said...

I once worked somewhere once that was a palace of glass. It looked fabulous, but we froze in the winter and fried in the summer.

potzina said...

I don't like modern architecture, i prefer old stones!
About this school, i'm not surprised. Architects prefer beauty than comfort!

JoJo said...

I can't believe they didn't plan a space for the hospital school. How lame!

jazzy said...

Looks still better than most of 'our' school buildings.

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