I would love to know who inspired the neo-classical design to this very useful beach shelter in Porthcawl. Such a contrast between the Spanish sun and brightness, and the soft and muted light on a South Wales waterfront.
I have just realised that this time last year I was planning to be on my way to the Gnaoua Festival in Morocco in a couple of months. I stopped in Malaga, Spain for a few days en route, and enjoyed walking around the costly architectural games that had been played down by the old harbour. I wonder how many years it will be before this kind of adventure will be perceived as affordable again. It may be decades, and the experiments like this one, and those in Valencia, for example, will possibly come to feel less ephemeral as they, hopefully, endure, and are not left behind as the next novelty captures the attention.
What re-use might Neath Port Talbot consider for Plaza?
In Northampton, a self-financed use has been made of this one. Are there sufficient devotees in Port Talbot?
Each balcony has a small drain-pipe to prevent ponding of snow-melt in winter and driven rain in summer. The building has stood the test of time well.
My translation of the 1972 article goes like this: ” The network of circulation spaces owes its ‘ rustic ‘ appearance to the flooring of Vaugirard brick paviours, enhanced through discreet and judicious lighting above each entrance.”
I like the varnished timber benches and the industrial scale fenestration; on a sunny day it is a gloriously warm place to sit and dream of skiing down the Masse slopes opposite.
There is limited woodland at this altitude; it makes for a starkness in cloudy and low-light conditions.
The architects played ‘ jeux ‘ ( games ) with the proportions of the elements of the building; with the white painted concrete balconies and the natural slate-hanging facades at the front and rear of the building.
The apartment buildings at Brelin, La Croisette in Les Menuires are just over 40 years old. They were heralded in the March 1972 edition of the journal of SCIVABEL ( SOCIETE DE CONSTRUCTION IMMOBILIERE DE LA VALLEE DES BELLEVILLE ) as being a visual ’ harmonious contrast ‘ - between the whiteness of painted concrete and the darkness of natural vertical slate hanging on its external elevations. I’m in full agreement! The building looks spectacular – almost like an ocean-going liner, with jutting prow, against the white mountainside.
The Modarom Building in the centre of Brasov is an iconic building. Its now a building of mixed use – including a bank. It bears the marks of unrepaired holes caused by shells shot during the first volleys of the December 1989 Revolution.
I first visited Romania in October 1995. Between 1995 and 2000, I visited a further 2 times, and had many Romanian friends visit my farm over the same period.
Although I haven’t visited Romania for over ten years, I have maintained contact with some of the members of the farming community in Valcea County, who had become friends during this series of reciprocal visits.
As a hill sheep-farmer myself, I felt a strong affinity with the people I met in the villages and the nearby mountains, in the remote summer cabins and in the winter lowland pastures. I became particularly interested in the features of the seasonal movement of sheep to and from the mountains in the spring and autumn. Remember that 1995 was prior to Romania’s entry into the European Union, and that the fall of Ceaucescu and the Communist regime was recent history – only 5 years previous. I became interested in discovering how the practice of transhumance had endured through all the turmoil and upheaval of not only the recent years, but also the centuries of change and geo-political evolution – through feudal systems, through collectivised and ’systematised ‘ eras, and how it would now endure during the seemingly chaotic period of privatisation and transition to the ‘ free ‘ market.
I had visited the immense, derelict buildings on the north shore of the Danube river in the middle of winter, where the sheep were overwintered, whilst the shepherds lived in makeshift huts or caravans, awaiting spring and the long walk back to the uplands. I visited the high mountains in the summer, where the family members cooperated to gather firewood to keep fires going in the crude wooden cabins; both to keep warm and to make the cheese from ewes’ milk every day for five months. I spoke to the lonely shepherds, who, with their dogs, watched the flocks pick over the peaks and rocky outcrops at over 2000 metres above seal level, watchful for predators and the capricious storms of the Carpathians. And I met the shepherds, travelling with their donkeys, dogs and a sack of polenta meal, as they moved the flocks across the fields, along road verges and disused ground on their way to the next overnight resting place, and ultimately to the destination; often taking over a month to get there.
So, I’ve just returned from my first visit to Romania for 12 years. Much has changed. Romania gained accession to the European Union in 2007, but changes to agriculture brought about by this are necessarily slow and take time to take effect. But what about the transhumance? I was interested to discover how more recent changes had affected the practice. Travelling by bicycle allows a perfect balance of speed and accessibility when it comes to visiting both rural and urban environments. I cycled over the highest road in Romania – The Transalpina – and also rode around the wonderful towns of Sibiu, Sighisoara and Brasov.
But going back to my interest in transhumance; my conclusions are that it may only be a few years before the scenes which I visited 15 years ago, will become scenes of the past. Increased traffic on roads, EU inspired regulations in respect of animal welfare and hygiene, and the increasing urbanisation of Romania, and in particular, the increasing aspirations of the youth, will all combine to eliminate this historic feature of Romanian agriculture. How drastic must the changes have been in the last ten years, that a practice that has endured through centuries, should so rapidly become so unsustainable or unattractive for whatever reason?
The seasonal movement of sheep over long distances to the mountain pastures will continue, but will diminish, as the rural economy becomes more monetized, and the practices of barter, exchange and the consumption of the brinza ( un-cured cheese ) in the local community, lessens.
The easier ( and quicker ) , movement of cattle from the nearby low-lying villages to the mountains will continue and increase, and the cheese will continue to be produced in a similar way for the time being. The sheep will be loaded onto road transport and the long distance movements accomplished in a day rather than weeks. The young shepherds will become livestock hauliers. Unless the cheese becomes a product which is ‘ marketed ‘ in the new ‘market-commodity ‘ world, then a significant element of the under-pinning of the system will be eroded.
As a consequence, I am certain that the skills which are attached to the maintenance of the tradition of long-distance overland movement of these ewe flocks, and the management associated with it, will not endure for much longer. I have seen many changes in Wales and sheep-farming here over the last 35 years, and there is a prosperity here now, where life was much harder and poorer in many ways when I arrived. So, not all change is bad, if we can take part in it and manage it properly.