Wembley 'Filtered'

By Rob Last edited 157 months ago
Wembley 'Filtered'

Like the majority of people we like looking at buildings but, if we're honest, we don't really know the first thing about architecture.

Every now and again though a magazine, tv programme or website manages to cut through the smokescreen of architectural jargon and actually manages to educate and inform us about a building.

The Filter does that for us on a regular basis.

Striving to be "elevant and insightful for the expert, and yet accessible and stimulating for the interested amateur," The Filter is a bit of a blogging polymath (blogymath?), taking in not only architecture but also economics, music, literature and sport.

Their recent post on Wembley Stadium (inspired by BBC article) is a welcome relief given the amount of Wembley-guff that's piled up over recent months:

Foster began with a perfectly wonderful functionalist device – a series of masts to hold up the roof from above in order to avoid visual obstructions from pillars below – and then made the limp intellectual leap from practical masterstroke to egotistical icon-making by joining up the struts of the masts to form an arch.

Limp intellectual leap? We like it! But what about the orginal stadium, that was hardly 'understated' was it?

The iconic features of the original 1930s stadium were of course the twin concrete towers at the main entrance, evoking the Byzantine and pseudo-classical influences that so informed the work of Britain’s master of colonial architecture, Edwin Lutyens. I’m the first to admit that these towers served no practical use, either; aside from their internal stair their external form and decoration were surely conceived principally as a visual signifier for the whole stadium development.

So the new arch isn't a 'visual signifier'?

The new arch may well be an innovative structure, but it’s philosophically lazy and raises questions about the selfish and wasteful desire to destroy in its totality the heritage of the old stadium. This is a building in thrall to the concept of the makeover and is squarely part of that culture of newness at all costs which globalised capitalism has fashioned in its own image.

Whether you agree or not it's nice to see a discussion of the country's premier sporting venue that doesn't contain the words 'FA Cup', 'bankrupt' and 'marijuana'. We can't wait to see what they make of the Olympic village.

Last Updated 15 February 2006