Walking up Lady Lawson Street in Edinburgh, I stopped for a closer look at Argyle House, an office block dating from 1968, designed by the architectural practice of Michael Laird & Partners. The building has many critics and is often described as an ‘eyesore’ and one of Edinburgh’s ‘ugliest buildings’. It appears to exist under a constant threat of erasure from property developers, and the City of Edinburgh Council, proposing new (re)development schemes.
The façade which borders the north side of West Port and the junction of Lady Lawson Street is very much of the brutalist box style. All right angles, rectangular windows and the material heft of concrete and harling.
Today, walking in behind the building, I see it from a different angle. The hidden curves, the windows as light reflecting scales. It takes on the appearance of some brutalist insect, flexing its wings, as if about to fly.
Opening quote from Clarice Lispector’s The Hour of the Star.
The photos of the Berlin Wall are from an inter-railing trip in the late 1980s. It was a coincidence to rediscover them in an old shoebox on the day that it was announced Lou Reed had died. I can still vividly recall a lurid, orange BASF cassette being pressed into my hand in the school playground. “Listen to this!” It was a recording of Rock n Roll Animal. Things changed.
I can still remember a number of the cassettes that travelled in the rucksack on that inter-railing adventure. Berlin was certainly one of them.