Friday, 31 August 2012
The Gatehaus, Bradford
Most of Bradford's buildings are either solid Victorian edifices built in local stone or utilitarian 70s concrete, with a few neo-classical blocks built more recently. This has to be the exception - and I find it a powerful but puzzling structure. Until I 'Googled' it, I wasn't even sure if it was office or apartments. It turns out to be luxury apartments. The building is called the Gatehaus and was completed in 2007. It was designed by the Shipley-based Robinson Design Group and has won several awards for its innovative design. The glass tower shown is in fact only the central part of the complex. I like this; it reminds me of the prow of a huge ship and I love the way the sky reflects in the glass.
It is somewhat disconcerting, as its strident modernity sits right beside one of the oldest parts of Bradford's city centre - the Little Germany district, an area of Victorian warehouses, built by German wool merchants. These have mostly now been converted into apartments too. The whole area was intended to be an exciting luxury residential development, but has been deeply scuppered by the failure to complete the Westfield Shopping Centre, the infamous 'hole' (see here) just down the road and the general decline of the city. I think they are struggling to sell or let the flats. A one-bedroom apartment is for sale at a little over £50,000.