Saturday, March 8, 2008

Stendhal Syndrome - FP's building playlist

No one likes to be predictable do they? We all prefer to think we are unique in our reactions and tastes, just a little bit different from everyone else. Last year we joined the ranks of squillions of tourists to take a sharp intake of breath upon entering the inner court of the Uffizi museum in Florence. I let out a very audible "Oh Christ!" and my other half expleted a very French "Oh putain!". It's the sheer majesty of the place plus the fact that, in spite of hoards of tourists of every creed and colour, you can almost see the minstrels, the bear-baiters, the jugglers and hawkers who must have populated this space in the 16th century. It seems that numerous unwary, unsuspecting travellers over the centuries have suffered actual physical symptoms when confronted with the beauty of Florence. These range from hyperventilating, to fainting and trembling. Stendhal described this phenomenon and also lent his name to it. Well, we didn't get the full blown delirium, but I'll never forget that single, breathtaking, dizzy moment of entering that inner courtyard one sunny day in August.

This week's playlist is unique in that I didn't actually know 8 of these tracks before yesterday. They kind of imposed themselves by their beauty or interest while I was deezering around with buildingy related words. Do let me know what you think.

And the question to go: What buildings have left you literally breathless by their beauty or brilliance of construction?

free music

48 comments:

scarymonster said...

Morning FP

Just tried to post and it disappeared.

Splendid way to discover new stuff, my favourite of which on first listen has to be the bonkers Alter Ego track. Will give them a full spin once I return from a scaryshoppingtrip.

Building-wise, I re-visited Barcelona after 15 years recently and the now publicly accessible interior of the Casa Batllo absolutely staggered me. Being able to wander among its ornate chimneys on the roof lent the experience a somewhat vertiginous thrill, but especially when my scarydaughter insisted on going close to the edge...

SM

nilpferd said...

Will listen later FP, nilpferd jr's class are playing the monsters in a local production of Where the wild things are, so today will be full..
But just to get your building question started, I'd say:

Jewish Museum in Berlin, especially the garden of exile; the most moving experience I've ever had with architecture.

Benztown's own Staatsgalerie, designed by James Stirling; a wonderfully eccentric "museum as ruin". The city of Stuttgart (not known for going out on a limb) only managed to approve such a radical building because rival architect Behnisch managed to get up everybody's noses.

The Aya Sophia in Istanbul- first a church, then a mosque, now secularised- still standing despite war and natural disaster.
A great monument of hope for the 21st century and also an astounding building.

The Basilica Sisterna, an underground water reservoir next to the Aya Sophia, incredibly constructed using all sorts of columns and capitals taken from ancient Greece, Egypt and the surroundings. The "sewer" scenes of "From Russia with love" were shot down there.
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/750670

St. Barbaras church in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic- extraodinary late Gothic church with a rare "tent" vaulted roof- legacy of the town's silver mines, some of the best gothic builders were employed here.
http://www.kutnahora.info/?l=en&r=55&a=&u=&typzob=2&z=198&old=

Müller house, Prague.
Recently visited this modern masterpiece by Adolf Loos- the house is a labyrinth of internal spaces which flow effortlessly into one another. Next to Corbusier's Villa Savoye, Mies' Tugendhat house and FLW's Falling Water the most important house design of the 20th century.

Sir John Soane's Museum, his former house at Lincolns Inn fields, London. Highly sophisticated interior design, ingenious use of mirrors to create the impression of space.

Sorry, got a bit carried away there..
Schönes Wochenende!

Abahachi said...

Donds for the Jewish Museum in Berlin; for me, it justifies the entire history of modern architecture, even the otherwise awful bits. Stunning, terrifying, moving.

The Pont du Gard aqueduct
The Allianz arena in Munich
Burghausen castle (at Burghausen, oddly enough).
Carreg Cennan castle in Carmarthenshire - most romantic caste in the world.
The sanctuary at Delphi (though that's mostly for its setting)

Frogprincess said...

Nice one guys. We have cheap Ryanairs to Barcelona so I'll bear that in mind. Nilpferd - Hals und Beinbruch for the wee'un. BTW would you do me a favour? I have the immense honour of having my office in one of the most beautiful Jugendstil houses in Europe. Which is fine and dandy. I have a PR text in German about the architecture and could translate it myself but it's chock full of German architecture terms. If I post the difficult words on this blog, could you possibly maybe tell me what the English terms are? Then I can do the tranlsation cos the rest is easy peasy.

Frogprincess said...

Lordy I'll have to get up to Berlin some time soon too...

nilpferd said...

FP- post away.

Frogprincess said...

Apologies to Frenchy - Hvitur & Kubii are Parisiens. Not Nordics it would seem. Cheers NPf - werde ich tun.

TracyK said...

Seeing Stonehenge (that counts, right?) for the first time did it for me. I often get emotional at landscapes and architecture, but that was something special. I get very, very misty at Christmas when our school is priveleged to use Lincoln Cathedral for its carol service. The combination of the music, the building and my kids is the start of Christmas to me. This year we were opposite the light steaming through the stained glass, making my form look almost angelic. They also behaved this year: bliss!
Prague is a total jaw-dropper, especially the sgraffito and the Art Nouveaut buildings, as well as the painted signs on the houses themselves. Some lovely examples of Jugenstil here:
http://pagesperso-orange.fr/artnouveau/en/villes/prague.html
The ossuary at Sedlec is also quite bonkers, for different reasons:
http://www.ludd.luth.se/~silver_p/kutna-1.html

steenbeck said...

There's a castle in Scotland called castle Gloom, which is flanked by the burn of sorrow and the burn of care, but despite all of this gloominess, it's very beautiful. You approach it through a wild sort of valley, and then the castle itself is almost, well, airy, as castles go. I like some of the Gaudi buildings in Barcelona. Just the idea that something so whimsical would be built and the idea of all of the serious thought that had to be put into making such a fantasy actually stand and support people. And the unfinished Sagrada Familia is actually quite moving. I've been to a pueblo village built into the side of a mountain in Colorado, which was remarkable, and has been made so touristy as to be quite heartbreaking. And I'm not sure if this counts, but there's a room in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC , the Nur al-Din room, which is Ottoman, it has floors of inlaid colored marble, high stained glass windows, painted wooden panels...and a fountain. Ever since I was little the peace and beauty of this room in the middle of New York has been amazing to me.

scarymonster said...

Liking the list, FP, with the exception of Ours whose vocalist has been listening to a little too much BONO for my tastes...

SM

ToffeeBoy said...

For me it has to be the view from Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh - looking up to the castle with those stunning houses in Ramsay Gardens. Simply unbeatable.

Frogprincess said...

I'm loving TracyK's Christmas Carols in Lincoln Cathedral. How great is that? Castle Gloom sounds great too. I'm with you on Princess Street Gardens - studied in Edinburgh and have lain on my back in those gardens and watched the Festival Fireworks. Scary -agree with the U2 comment. the real discovery is the Eskobar song. You're on that skyscraper with him, your hair blowing in the wind and you can feel the structure sway gently beneath you. They're Swedish by the way.

TracyK said...

I have to admit, the Cathedral is just amazing to live near. Our old house was close enough to hear the cathedral bells chime the hours. From our new bedroom windows, the cathedral still dominates the skyline. Seeing it looming over the town the scale looks so wrong. Someone once described it as looking like "Barbie furniture dropped amongst Lego buildings" and there is that weird sense of scale gone wrong. I didn't take this picture, but it gives you a sense of the sheer scale of it:
http://www.ironjohn.com/lincoln.jpg

DarceysDad said...

Evening all.

Wish I could have been at nilpferd jr.s performance. Where The Wild Things Are was my favourite childhood book ...

... but anyway, back on track:

I'm not that well travelled, so there's an awful lot of the above that means nothing to me.
I was very struck with Gaudi in Barcelona (and have my photos of me & DarceysMam with the chimneys atop Casa Batillo). It was only the climb that made me breathless in Sagrada Familia though, I think that building indicates a crossing of the line between genius and madness.

My personal choice is actually something much more mundane: the bridge roadway across Lake Pontchartrain outside New Orleans.

For those that don't know, you are well into your descent into Kenner when you cross the lake and see the roadway. I saw this road on the water and waited until the end of it came into view . . . and waited . . . and waited. 26 MILES of arrow-straight highway across a vast lake!

I hadn't been planning on renting a car on that holiday, but I just had to so that I could drive over that bridge. So we did it, and when you are half way over it is quite disconcerting. 20ft above the water is not enough to give you a view of 13 miles each way: all you have is a ribbon of concrete in front and behind and temporary 'neighbours' you'll never speak to. I have never felt so 'lost' without being at sea. On our return journey it absolutely siled it down, and the sky, road and lake all merged into one grey, wet, shimmering blob. Sensory Deprivation Therapy at 40mph! Now that was both weird and scary.

Anyway, time for MotD ... :o)

nilpferd said...

DD- cheers, it went off very well, or as well as can be expected with 25 6 and 7 yr olds performing their first ever theatre production.. the nilpferds were very proud (flicks tear out of corner of eye)
Nice description of the bridge above, btw.
And it only occured to me later re the dondle revelations that you've got nothing to complain about- whose moniker is most intimately associated with the term on this particular blog? I'll give you three guesses...
ah, Blimpy, perhaps you could change it to "Nilpferds history of DONDING..."
Off to follow the cricket for a bit...

steenbeck said...

FP, you ask the best questions, and I really like how graciously you host your post, answering responses and turning it into a conversation. Thanks for that.

DsD. I'm a big fan of mad genius, and I think you described Gaudi very well that way. I was perhaps more struck by other places in Spain--places I stayed, like a monastery, a castle in Cordona, and I actually stayed inside the walls that surround Avila, but I can't for the life of me remember what they're called, so I couldn't write about them.

I think sometimes it's the small, unexpected places, that you didn't read about in the guide book and that aren't crammed by tourists that you remember best.

goneforeign said...

When I was a kid and adults asked 'What are you going to be when you grow up: I always said 'An architect'. Could have been my old man dragging me around every Gothic cathedral in England, but I loved it. About a year ago I finally bought my own copy of Bannister Fletcher, [google it if you're not sure.]
I've travelled a bit but missed all the points listed above, none of the places I went were known for their architecture: I'd love to have seen Gaudi, ditto the new bridge in Provence, ditto Chandigarh, and particularly ditto the current work of Calatrava and Gehry, but I might have left it all a bit late.
The things I've seen that are mind boggling are Canterbury, Westminster, St Pauls, Welles, St John's Chapel, Ely, Salisbury, Lincoln, Notre Dame, Reims, Milan et al. One that I'd have loved above all others to have seen is the chapel of the Notre Dame du Haut , a beautiful early structure by Le Corbusiere.

Not in the slightest bit religious minded I love the choir of St John's Chapel Cambridge, it's what TracyK is talking about, a lifetime memorable experience for me was wandering into Welles catherdral on a Saturday morning in about 1962 and hearing the choir practice: I can still hear it, St John's choir is a good substitute.

goneforeign said...

Can I just add a ps?
Back in the '60's I signed up for an art class at university, it was "the History of Architecture', a subject I was very interested in. On the first day of class the instructor walked in, he looked like a down at heel used car salesman with an ill fitting greasy suit, my jaw dropped. He introduced himself and began to talk; at the end of the lecture I and about 6-7 other students gathered around him and talked for another hour or more, it was like that every week, the class always ran an extra hour+ plus for a group of us. He was the best instructor I've ever had. One week he brought in something special, he was going to pass this around but we must treat it with the reverence it deserved, it was a piece of stone he'd picked up on Mount Olympus!

TracyK said...

I think we are quite a bunch of architecture buffs, aren't we? We really aren't doing much for our image as geeks!
DD, that bridge sounds like my worst nightmare: I'm quite phobic about bridges. Whenever I'm on one with a wide, fast-flowing river below I can almost feel the molecules of water in me tugging me downwards. Kind of like vertigo, but with bridges. I know it's stupid: the Halfpenny Bridge sticks in my mind as one of the worst! The Charles Bridge in Prague (again, sorry!) is my favourite bridge because it's so sturdy and wide and covered with statues that distract me from The Fear. And Jon proposed there again when we went in Feb.
Lyveden New Bield is an odd place, anyone been there? It was meant to be a massive Elizabethan mansion but was never completed. You can wander round and see the inside, all exposed to the elements and never lived in: quite creepy but also very affecting.
http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/rmhttp/arts/apictureofbritain/images/gallery/england_midlands/rural/1/web/112119857018495763031_1_web.jpg

steenbeck said...

We've had bizarre torrential downpours all day, interspersed with beautiful blue skies, and then more dark-skied thunderstorms. But we live on the river, and it's rising. We've had three 50-year floods in the last 3 yrs, (global warming anyone?) and I fear we'll have another tomorrow. In a brief sunny spell I walked down to the bridge with a bridge-anxiety-prone friend, and the sight of the high, muddy debris-strewn water was too much for her. We couldn't even walk onto the bridge.

Frogprincess said...

Steenbeck thank you so much for that. The tear flicked away from the corner of my eye à la Nilpferd was not metaphorical there. And am I only person who thinks "We live on the river, and it's rising" would make a very fine song title/lyric? Do you have an early warning system? How would you know if the river burst its banks in the middle of the night? I'm worried about this now.
---
GF - Donds for Britain's fine Cathedrals!! My dad used to go down to Lincoln on business (bloody long drive) and always always took a few hours to go and see the Cathedral. It seemed to be one of his favourite places. Donds also for Wells and Canterbury - both stunners. And Cambridge too. and my "own" Durham. Durham Castle is great too. Student accomodation inside. Can you believe that? One of my colleagues had a flat in the castle in his third year.
---
Kudos for Darce and his Hitchcockien description of that bridge. We were there with you. Could be a great film scene as part of a chase with a mad psycho. You're stuck on THAT bridge with him behind you. In lashing rain. Would be a bugger to film but a great scene.
---
Glad the Nilpferds theatre experience went off with a bang.

DarceysDad said...

Thanks for the kind words.

Tracy, look away now! For the rest of you:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l90jk2WzVQ4

Sorry, don't have time to create the formal link or post the whole thing. You'll have to cut'n'paste.

Frogprincess said...

Wow - I would have been frantic. I share TracyK's phobia. OK you clever people - we did clowns the other week - technical term for bridge phobics? TracyK and Scary I've posted the Pet Shop Boy's Luna Park in my list in honour of Nilpferd's photo. Towering, expansive, orchestral Trev production. Enjoy.

Frogprincess said...

BTW I'd like to say a big collective DOND to our webmaster - Blimpy - who I suspect is doing some very good housekeeping on this blog. Blimpy, perhaps you justified my 'Northern towns' post text when I couldn't manage it and I suspect you might also have lightened the Uffizi photo? It certainly needed it. This is much much appreciated. FP.

Anonymous said...

fp - I think that Pontchartrain Causeway chase idea has been done.

What's that film reference site that people use like I use allmusic??

DsD

treefrogdemon said...

We have Banister Fletcher in our house too, gf...I used it when I made my famous Parthenon model in first-year (secondary school) history. Haven't seen the Parthenon but I'd like to dond all the Barcelona Gaudi, the Uffizi (and the Duomo), the Pont Du Gard, Wells Cathedral...

and a first for Glasgow School of Art by Charle Rennie Mackintosh.

treefrogdemon said...

or Charles, even.

Anonymous said...

Fear of Crossing Bridges?

Known by a number of names - Gephydrophobia, Gephyrophobia, Gephysrophobia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gephyrophobia

DsD

Mnemonic said...

For me it's not a single building but that ride from Kennedy airport to New York at night where you come over the Triboro Bridge, you look left and suddenly see Manhattan as a mountain of fairy lights.

Another is Mdina, the "silent city" on Malta, all pale gold sandstone and no traffic,a beautiful mix of Arabic and Christian mediaeval architecture.

goneforeign said...

Who'da thought it, such an innocuous question elicits all these responses and ties us all ever tighter together.
Ms. Demon, I liked you before and now as a fellow BF aficionado, I pledge my true love! And of course multiple donds for Rennie and all he stood for.
And Mnemonic, have you ever flown into LA on a clear night? Spectacular and it stretches for about 40 odd miles.
Princess: I've never been to Durham but I'd go just for a look, I love those weird columns in an English Gothic cathedral and it's beautiful location overlooking the river.
This sounds like a good spot to pull up some cathedral slides and scan 'em in, we could have a mini architecture orgy on our music blog.

Frogprincess said...

Donds for CR Macintosh and all his works!! Donds for an architectural orgy. And Kudos for Darce letting me know I'm a (takes deep breath) Gephyrophobe!

DarceysDad said...

DarceysNan (that's my mam, not DarceysGran) always tells me if I ever go to Vegas I absolutely MUST drive from CA rather than fly in direct, and make sure I'm not going to arrive until well after dark. She says after hours of nothing across the desert, you come over a rise and BLAM!! Neon extravaganza.

nilpferd said...

DD, just rent "Diamonds are forever" and it will save you the flight.. it would also avoid the necessity of having to put your Mustang up on two wheels to get through those narrow alleyways... although if you do go to Vegas you'll see many of the buildings mentioned above, albeit in about 1:3 scale, I believe they have a shopping mall based on a recreation of St Marks in Venice..

Frogprincess said...

Eyvenin' all, just popped in to tell Darce and Scary that someone has posted lots of Kane Gang songs on youtube. Listening to 'Closest thing to heaven as I type'. God, it's good. And Nilpferd's comment has reminded me of one of my favourite books 'England England' by Julian Barnes. An unscrupulous entrepreneur rebuilds all the famous english monuments in scaled down version on the Isle of Wight and opens the whole place as a tourist attraction. Brilliant. Like everything he writes. Off to bed with the book in question. Nighty night all and thanks for all the great comments this week end.

ejaydee said...

This will probably sound cheesy and cliché, but to this day I don't remember seeing anything man made as beautiful as the Taj Mahal. I was only 11 when I saw it, but it still stayed with me. I like the Opera in Paris too, the Pantheon in Rome. Otherwise I would agree with Mnemonic that it's not necessarily a single building that creates the best effect. Everytime I took the Eurostar, I looked forward to the entry into London, as you pass Brixton, you can see the Battersea Power Station, then the South Bank reveals itself, you can catch a bit of Canary Wharf and the City. And to complete the effect, I would take the 168 bus, especially at night, and you pass the National Theatre, which if I'm lucky will have that purple lighting, and then on Waterloo Bridge, I try to take it all in as I look both ways to catch my favourite view in London.
Here in Sao Paulo, there's a highway that goes through the centre of the city. It's quite deep, a bit like a valley so the other buildings are towering on each side as you drive through it, and bridges join the streets above. At one point the highway turns into a tunnel, because above it is Anhangabaú, which used to be a river. Now it's an "urban river" made of a mosaic of tiles and patches of green. I'm quite fond of it because I see the urban river as an homage to the concept of a City. SP is such a City, not in the same way as London or Paris. Coming into Manhattan is alaways special, and I was amazed as I flew into Mexico City at night, you get past a mountain and all of a sudden here it is, an ocean of lights you don't see the end of.

goneforeign said...

Ejay: Try flying out of Mexico by day, you look out of the starboard widows and there's Popocatapetl about 10ft from the wingtip with a huge plume of smoke and ash! That's how it seemed last time I did it.
And everybody, please avoid Vegas like the plague, it's an awful place, the absolute armpit of the universe.

goneforeign said...

36 comments and counting, this must be a Spill record, we should do Architecture more often, Thank you Princess.

scarymonster said...

FP: with all this talk of arrivals, I'm reminded of the thrill of coming into Newcastle by train and the goosebump-inducing sight of the Tyne Bridges (especially during those first few years after leaving home). Gets me every time (tho' not quite the same driving these days).

Will check out the Kane Gang next week later thanks.

SM

Blimpy said...

-goneforeign;

the record is 51 comments

http://readersrecommend.blogspot.com/2008/02/best-slightly-leftfield-pop-gem-of-year.html

Blimpy said...

Mostly blether, I should add.

Proudfoot said...

...and this'll be no different.
1. The Zimbabwe ruins. Cecil Rhodes was so impressed he decided that it couldn't have been built by Africans and that a rougue bunch of Phonecians had done it. Monster raving loony racist imbecile.
2. The old Hoover building on the M40. Now a Tesco. Still fantasize about living there though.
3.Rousanou monastery, Meteora, Greece. Location, Location, Location. Think they used this in 'For Your eyes Only'.
Oh, my favourite Counting Crows song. I like this site Blimpy.

Proudfoot said...

I meant rogue, not rouge. And of course Phoenicians.With an E.

Frogprincess said...

No prob Proudfoot. I discovered Counting Crows just this weekend. Are your family referred to as Proudfeet like in the Lord of the Rings?
---
Nilpferd - see if this makes sense to you: it's words from a presstext about the building in wot I am currently sitting. Think Jugendstil. here goes:
Fensterbrüstungen
Steinmetzarbeiten
Gesimsbändern
Gesindehäuschen
Backsteinen
Hohlkehlen
Metallfassungen
Hochparterres
Transparente Falttüren
I know what they are talking about - I can even go downstairs and poin t out these things. I just don't know how to say them in English. Help with any of these words would be much appreciated but don't spend too much time on it - we've got music to listen to....
Many thanks FP.

goneforeign said...

OK, Well I wouldn't be so crass as to post a comment just to bump up the score, So I'll mention a couple on this side of the pond, see them before you die.
1. Tikal: the restored ruins of a Mayan city in the middle of the Guatemalan jungle, I have many memories, I've been there several times, but one stands out. Full moon, midst of the jungle at night, sitting on the steps of a Mayan temple that's possibly 2000 years old; somewhere some distance away there's someone playing a flute, this was about the time that Herbie Manne was doing such things, could'a been him. Not a fan but, very memorable.
2. Reasonably close by is the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, also a source of many sites of pre-columbian cities, like Chichen-itza, Tulum, Uxmal and Palenque: All spectacular, google 'Mayan centers'.
3. The Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, considered by many as the greatest museum in the world for it's content, but it's worth a visit just for the building and the waterfall in the forecourt. I believe it was built in less than a year. Go There!

saneshane said...

Hundertwasser House in Vienna..
Hundertwasser has/had great ideas for building, organic natural tree and plant filled skylines but the buildings just visually jar for me. But his paintings I love...but you can't fault the wow factor.

Blau Haus in Dresden.. it's the trumpet drains.. inspirered

Mausoleum of Gohad Shad beautiful dome (maybe it's the colour that does it for me)

Zimbabwe was amazing so a dond to proudfoot

and Berlin has various amazing buildings as mentioned before, the Jewish museum has to be experienced.

and the bridge thing..here at the uni of east anglia, there is a walkway to the sainsburys center that is see through, my three year old clomps along it with so much joy.
(my legs go to jelly and I would prefer to jump off than stay up...it's not even very high...never used to be like this..Weird)

Proudfoot said...

FP Proudfoot is a nickname I picked up in the pub. I'm one of those annoying people who cross their legs on the Tube and get in the way, causing endless tutting. After a friend had spilled his umpteenth pint negotiating his way over my gangling nether limbs he gave me the nickname. Could have been worse, really. The family are not referred to as Proudfeet, they are a bit on the Tookish side for that.
The Crows' 'August' album is great. I especially like the drum sound throughout. I bought the follow up, 'Recovering the Satellites' but it is one of those weird albums that just totally fails to deliver without one being able to put one's finger on exactly why.

nilpferd said...

FP- hope this helps:

Fensterbrüstungen=window breast or breast walls
Steinmetzarbeiten=stonemasonry
Gesimsbändern=cornices
Gesindehäuschen=servants quarters
Backsteinen=bricks
Hohlkehlen=coved wall bases
Metallfassungen=metal or steel framing
Hochparterres=mezzanines
Transparente Falttüren=glazed folding doors

Saneshane, envy you having seen the Mausoleum, Robert Byron's book "The road to Oxiana" has a wonderful description of it. If you don't know this book, and have travelled in Afghanistan or Persia, you might enjoy it.

Frogprincess said...

Oh it does. Thank you so much. I know a French architect with a German wife here - so they were able to do me the French version. I just didn't have the combination - English mother tongue + architect + fluent German available. Well now I have - all thanks to the 'Spill!! Connecting people!!! Yeyyyyy!! Herzlichen Dank!!