Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Up on the Southbank roof(garden)

Brutalism is having a bit of a moment at the moment, and  we're both keen on all flavours of future so off we went to the South Bank to hear about the ultimate brutalist people's palace, and how it had been inspired by natural landscapes. The aim had been to create vistas, gulleys, grottos, ravines, views, vistas and aspects, as if Capability Brown had been reborn as a concrete-pouring socialist robot. The National Trust Concrete Enthusiasts who were leading the tour were men of great modernist passions, but they also had a fine eye for detail; explaining which woods had been used for the concrete casting, for example, and why.

The South Bank is in need of renovation, and wraps are about to go on, which is why the tours are happening, This meant that those with an eye for urban decay and plant invaders had plenty to snap.

These are mostly from one of the sculpture courts (the one at the bottom is next to one of the staircases).  It wasn't that long ago since we were watching a car do weird things on a loop out here -- 6 months, maybe? So this is this summer's growth, only:

crack gardens of the sculpture court sculpture court crack garden weeds and shadows
colossal weed wire and concrete crack gardens of the sculpture court
Wallflowers lawn and feature plant one last concrete garden

The Southbank Roof Garden is not far from here so seeds have probably blown over. There's all sorts in the roof garden, from a shady grove of birches to cheerful raised beds full of veg, but here we're mostly seeing the classics of the urban landscape; couch grass, buddleia, and weeds. I can't readily identify them, but not one is a plant you'd keep. Yet every single one has made this National Monument absolutely  their own.

The Sculpture Gardens are going to be resurfaced, told us the man from the Southbank with a slight wrinkle in his nose, as I cheerfully snapped the weeds in the cracks. Something more hard-wearing, and more in keeping with modern surfacing.

But I doubt they will be able to keep out the weeds.

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