Tuesday, 7 December 2010

National Media Museum


The National Media Museum, Bradford, is housed in a concrete 1960s complex that also holds the ice skating rink and Bradford Central Library.  The tower block was once part of Bradford University and is now student flats.   The museum frontage has been modernised by the addition of a glass atrium and the former library theatre has become a cinema, part of the Museum, which also boasts a gigantic IMAX cinema screen.

I found the following, quoted in 2005 by Dr George Sheeran, of the University of Bradford's Pennine and Yorkshire Studies Unit:
"A lot of the stuff (regeneration) that was done in the Sixties was done on a big wave of optimism about the future, and it did produce some things which unfortunately haven't lasted. If you look at Bradford Central Library, opened in 1966, then it was the biggest library (in terms of the number of books it had) in England which is an astonishing statistic when you think about it. It had a small art gallery, a cafeteria and it had a theatre and people were willing to put their money behind that sort of thing then, and some of the things done in the 1960s were very good.
On the other hand, the architecture was dire. It was on a scale nobody had seen, it was of a design nobody in Bradford had experienced before. I think there was this ideology behind it which saw everything modern as progressive - that was a big word in the Sixties, whether it led to social progress or not, and there was a deep, deep hatred of everything in the Victorian past. In about 1960 there was a Dutch chap who taught planning at Leeds School of Architecture, I can't remember his name, but he called Bradford, 'a city designed by the devil' which I think was an attitude of mind amongst planners. I know which (Bradford) I would rather have."

He speaks for a lot of people. A lot of us mourn the loss of some of the Victorian buildings.  Those that remain have been transformed by stone cleaning and sympathetic renewal.  But it's good to see these 60s buildings being used in a creative way even if they aren't too pleasing to the eye.  There is always a huge poster on the front of the Media Museum and I like the impact of this particular image of the young boy.

(This has had a bit of work in PS - desaturated it, popped the colour back on the poster and added some grain to emphasise the gritty concrete.)

14 comments:

  1. Nice composition, and great use of PS.

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  2. I was in the museum a few months back; enjoyed their collection of old film cameras and other stuff. Worth a visit.

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  3. Grey sky and grey buildings lit up by the poster.

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  4. I don't know how to work the magic you do on the photos, but I too like the image of the boy. I think the 60's buildings are a good reminder of the Cold War. I can imagine Emma Peel walking through the doorway. Even in our community, they tore down a beautiful old court house to put up a utilitarian concrete structure. It has no redeeming qualities, unfortunately.

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  5. I like what you did with this shot!

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  6. I am not really fond of modern architecture but I would like to see this museum. I love the banner on the outside.

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  7. I like this shot very much too. I go back in forth about what I like in architecture. The addition of this photo on the museum wall was brilliant.

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  8. Nice focus with the color! Lovely photos you've done here lately.

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  9. Back in Derby now, but I've seen this on two occasions in the last two days. I had a go at photographing it from the top of the NCP, but it was dark and just a little too far away to be clear.

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  10. I really like the banner, it makes the 60s building a little less hard on the eyes. ~Lili

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  11. Well done with the photo, Jenny. And isn't it ever so fascinating how our tastes for all design - fashion, architecture, whatever - goes in cycles, and some cycles are, in retrospect, just monstrous, while others stand the test of time! :-D

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  12. Popped on over from H @ Little Sealed Packages, to read up on what you'd had to say about this building - extremely interesting post. Thanks!

    Absolutely concur with Francisca's comment ;)

    You're a dab-hand with your photography too, BTW!

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  13. I worked for McAlpine's on the construction of the Ice Rink/offices/theatre (now museum) after A levels in 1965. I spent two weeks just chiselling concrete out of the space which is the great convex glass front. It was built as a theatre, but never used as such. Another firm, Costains, built the library and another theatre next door at the same time.

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