Architecture – May 2021

Welcome to the twentieth instalment of the Virtual Architecture Group.

  1. Guided architecture walks

In April we held the first of our guided architecture walks. We had a leisurely stroll

around Great Bowden, and along the way we stopped at some of the notable buildings in the village to discuss the many different architectural styles.

To comply with the lockdown “rule of six” we could only have 5 members of the Architecture group plus the guide on each walk. Due to the level of demand there were 6 sessions of the Great Bowden walk, and I’d like to than Roger Lewin, Trish Woods and Geoff Woods for helping out as tour guides.

The Elbephilharmonie concert hall in Hamburg

The Elbephilharmonie concert hall in Hamburg

The next guided walk will be around Kibworth Harcourt. I will send out details in the near future.

  1. April Zoom meeting

At the April zoom meeting I gave a talk entitled “Six of the best – where historic meets modern architecture”. We know that historic architecture often has a lasting impact on our memory of a place, and when it’s done well modern architecture can have the same impact. In my talk I showed 6 buildings where an existing building was transformed by the addition of a modern extension. After taking the audience on a virtual tour of 6 cities I invited people to vote for their favourite building, and the winning building was the

Elbephilharmonie concert hall in Hamburg which received 35% of the votes. Second place went to the Stealth Building in New York, and joint third place went to the Jewish Museum in Berlin and St Atony’s College in Oxford.

This photo shows what an impressive sight the concert hall is.

  1. Hyperbolic Paraboloids

At the April zoom meeting we discussed the work of the architect Zaha Hadid. I was asked if she had designed any buildings in the UK, and I recommended that people look at the Aquatics Centre she designed for the 2012 London Olympics. I said that the roof has been likened to the shape of a pringle, and one of the more erudite members of the group pointed out the shape is actually known as a Hyperbolic Paraboloid.

That gives me a good excuse to share this article from the Londonist website, which is about London’s top six Truncated Hyperbolic Paraboloids.

  1. May Zoom meeting

The next Zoom meeting will be held at 2pm on Tuesday 25 May. Geoff Woods will be giving a talk entitled “Temporary Buildings”.  Buildings are meant to last aren’t they? Geoff will take a look at three types of temporary building, two of which were designed and intended for short-term use and a third which unexpectedly fell into the same category.

It should be an enjoyable afternoon, and I hope you can join us. The details of the meeting will be sent out in due course.

  1. The Architecture of the Post War City – 11 May 2021 at 6pm

 After the Second World War, London looked to the future. Recovering from the destruction of the Blitz and seeking to banish the decrepit Victorian city, in the 1950s and 60s it embraced modernism and embarked on a great project of architectural reinvention. Taking the best ideas from Europe and trying to keep pace with America while maintaining its own traditions, the Square Mile remade itself through new landscapes for a confident new age. From modernist icons and brutalist skyscrapers to aerial walkways, bogus roadways and curious underpasses, urban historian Mike Althorpe (aka walking tour guide The London Ambler) pulls together the key projects and landmarks of the City’s once bold future to chart the architecture, buildings and remnants of what was and what might have been.

Mike Althorpe is an urban historian, architectural researcher, educator and story teller with a passion for the history, streets and buildings of the greatest city on earth.

 Thanks to Hilary Hunt for sharing details of the above online talk.

  1. Meeting programme for 2021

Thank you to the people who have offered to give a talk at our monthly meetings. We now have a programme for the whole year. For the next few months the meetings will be held on Zoom.



Date Topic Speaker
26 January Oranges and Lemons Colin Cohen
23 February Three cast iron buildings: People in glass houses should not throw stones, but other construction material is available. Michael Milsom
23 March Tree houses. Architecture or what? Trish Woods
27 April A beauty contest – six of the best. When modern architecture meets historic. Colin Cohen
25 May Temporary buildings. Geoff Woods
22 June Arts for Arts Sake – a brief history of architects and their buildings c18802-1930s Barry Frenchman
27 July A favourite building

·         De La Warr Pavilion, Hastings

·         St Pancras station hotel

·         Fallingwater

·         Catherwood House, Market Harborough



Liz Brett,

Colin Cohen,

Michael Milsom,

Geoff Woods

24 August Architectural blunders. Trish Woods
28 September The architecture of St Alban’s Roger Lewin
26 October St Basil’s Cathedral Hilary Hunt
23 November Annual architecture quiz Colin Cohen and Geoff Woods



Colin Cohen

079730 348817