Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

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chris_j_wood
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Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by chris_j_wood »

For some months now, the rather ugly 1960s office block in Market Place (the one with Sketchleys and Greggs in its ground floor) has had hoardings up around it whilst it has been converted in apartments and re-clad. A couple of days ago they came down, to reveal:
MarketPlaceStalin1.jpg
MarketPlaceStalin2.jpg
I thought there wasn't anything they could do to make it worse, but I now think I was sadly deluded. The new look can best be described as a Reading brick clad version of the sort of Stalinist blocks that mar many former Soviet-block countries. All on top of a completely unchanged 1960s ground floor.

The brick-work looks a bit odd to boot. I'm hoping the white bits where bricks are missing around corners will eventually be filled in, although that might be another piece of bad judgement on my part (why would they remove the scaffolding before they have finished?). And why is the pointing so different in different places?.
Last edited by chris_j_wood on 17 Aug 2016 11:26, edited 1 time in total.
Fed-up
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Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by Fed-up »

You see this on houses in Lower Earley.

The builders didn't check they are using the same type of brick as they went through each pallet. They just blindly build it all up and you end up with a hodge podge of bricks when it is all revealed!
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chris_j_wood
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Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by chris_j_wood »

Fed-up wrote:The builders didn't check they are using the same type of brick as they went through each pallet. They just blindly build it all up and you end up with a hodge podge of bricks when it is all revealed!
Except that I think all the bricks are the same colour. If you take a closer look:
MarketPlaceStalin3.jpg
you can see that the lighter coloured sections are pointed, whilst the darker are not. Judging by the gaps in the unpointed sections, I'd guess that the bricks are actually glued (or otherwise attached) to the white substrate, and are probably not full depth. I'm guessing that this is some sort of factory made panel finish that is erected rather than laid. But that doesn't explain why some bits have been pointed and some not.

And even if all this is just unfinished business, to be sorted out late, the building is still as ugly as sin.
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Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by dave m »

They look like brick slips. Basically tiles

To be fair you can't polish a ......
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Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by 2sheds »

You can see those stick on 'brick' tiles on the new school at Hodsoll Rd too. From the photos they haven't finished sticking the missing corners and edges yet. Nor have they finished the pointing. It is a bit weird the scaffold has gone before doing this but perhaps they can't get supply for some time and it's cheaper to take the scaffold away and put it back at a later date to finish off.

It's not great design but fractionally better than a plain concrete box, so I second dave m's comment.
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Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by OLDMAN »

s'okay I suppose
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Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by Fed-up »

Should have zoomed in on the pics. Very bizarre that they have not finished.

Hopefully the council will make them finish properly before the flats can be occupied. :whistle1:
"Every place that I have been leaves its message on my skin. So many prophecies, so many signs, so little time, so little time" - Alan Prosser/Ian Telfer
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Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by chris_j_wood »

2sheds wrote:It's not great design but fractionally better than a plain concrete box, so I second dave m's comment.
I'm not convinced. The proportions are all wrong, especially the very deep band of bricks above the uppermost windows. Those deep-set windows look mean and nasty. I've seen some plain concrete boxes with decent proportions and glazing that looked considerably better than this.

But yes, it would probably have been in everybody's interests to tear this place down and start again with something better.
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Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by Yola »

I think the concrete box that was there could've been cleaned up and made a bit more presentable. This is just hideous.
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Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by chris_j_wood »

Yola wrote:I think the concrete box that was there could've been cleaned up and made a bit more presentable. This is just hideous.
I'd agree with that too.

To me this smacks of some architect saying "This is a ugly building, but Reading likes brick, so lets slap some bricks on it and nobody will notice how ugly it is". And it clearly hasn't worked; all it has done is made it uglier.
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Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by 2sheds »

My posts are all in the context of what I now have to see from my window at E P Collier. It's far worse than 'Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin' and there isn't any brick so they've done render in brick colour! It's truly awful. Here's a pic of a concrete box that they couldn't even keep within the building line and is actually a low level single storey but jacked up off the flood plain making it 1 and a half storeys. Every single line is different to the surrounding buildings. This is new build and just shows why local authorities shouldn't be able to grant their own planning. That Market Place building is comparatively like Versailles and I know which concrete box I'd rather have to look at - one clad in fake bricks rather than one rendered in brick colour.
EPC.jpg
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Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by chris_j_wood »

zag wrote:Its supposed to look like this
Well it clearly doesn't. The roof detailing is completely different, and the one on the artists impression avoids the out-of-proportion brick band above the upper windows that gives the building it's "receding forehead" look. The artist's impression also doesn't have those meanly inset windows with a centre pier. And the artists impression shows the windows adapting to the raised floor over the vehicle entry, which the building doesn't.

Clearly the artists impression was produced to influence the planning committe and/or off-plan purchasers. Then all the expensive stuff was ditched in the actual build, leaving the town with an eyesore.
2sheds wrote:My posts are all in the context of what I now have to see from my window at E P Collier.
To be honest, all I can really see in your photo is a building site. Is all the scaffolding down now?. I think I would need a visit to properly compare the two.
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Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by 2sheds »

chris_j_wood wrote:
2sheds wrote:My posts are all in the context of what I now have to see from my window at E P Collier.
To be honest, all I can really see in your photo is a building site. Is all the scaffolding down now?. I think I would need a visit to properly compare the two.
That building is now occupied but for some reason some of the scaffold still up and the window now out and replaced with ply (the photo is old). Yes, please give the site a visit and see what they've allowed to happen. If the New Hope centre is open you can get a good overview but it's from the street that it looks the oddest with all the new build up in the air. Perhaps that's why the window's now out - people walking by would be looking at the legs of those inside. Rushed, cheap, and building whatever they liked out of whatever material they liked because they could.
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Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by ReadingT »

It looks like they intend to stick over the bricks with the stick on bricks but haven't finished yet :roflol3:
bobby1413

Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by bobby1413 »

Image

...

I'm so bloody p*ssed off with this. It seems like a backwards step to me. To call this hideous is just such a gross understatement. I thought the town/RBC were doing a fairly decent job in improving the appearence of new/refurbed buildings, such as the case of Thames Tower.

This picture actually looks like the Before version, and I actually had to re-read the thread and check the dates as I was confused by it.

This are of town is so underused and wasted it's unreal. We have a run down area with a monument in the middle which has mould growing all over it and a sh1tty metal fence around it which is rusting away.

Have I made it clear how angry I am or should I continue?
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Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by dave m »

What exactly did you expect?
The Brighton pavilion??

All they did was clad it.
They should be taken to task if the finish isn't what was agreed.
But we don't know if permission was granted -people tend to think that the permission they see is fixed. But it is common to apply for a variation

Also, RBC get stick for allowing this. There are strict rules on what they can and cannot allow. They have a bit of lee-way but if the developer appeals the planning authority has little chance of winning. It may not be what people like, but that's planning law for you. The council have a lot less say than people imagine.

I imagine that the same people who complain about RBC "allowing" this would also be apoplectic if they were refused an extension on the grounds of taste

Btw I don't like it either
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Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by bobby1413 »

dave m wrote:What exactly did you expect?
The Brighton pavilion??

All they did was clad it.
They should be taken to task if the finish isn't what was agreed.
But we don't know if permission was granted -people tend to think that the permission they see is fixed. But it is common to apply for a variation

Also, RBC get stick for allowing this. There are strict rules on what they can and cannot allow. They have a bit of lee-way but if the developer appeals the planning authority has little chance of winning. It may not be what people like, but that's planning law for you. The council have a lot less say than people imagine.

I imagine that the same people who complain about RBC "allowing" this would also be apoplectic if they were refused an extension on the grounds of taste

Btw I don't like it either
What did I expect... well a building that appears modern, clean, bright and future proof. What we've actually got is a dull, red bricked, industrial looking building in an area where that theme really doesn't fit or provide vision for other improvements.

I was hoping that building would set off a series of other ones in that part. Such as the old bank building (which has the potential to be beautiful) being done up for the new bar.

Part of the reason I'm surprised is I didn't have a decent understanding of the plans, I just saw the final result. I guess when I compare it to some of the pictures of areas like Station Hill, the proposed flats down near the prison area, etc... I just feel that it's a great shame they can't do more with this project.
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Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by chris_j_wood »

I'm not complaining about RBC. I'm complaining about the poor design, which is down to the developers and (if they had one) their architect.

I've taken a closer look at this over the weekend, and I've realised why it seems to stand out so much. It is because it does stand-out more, in the literal sense. As you can see from the photo below, the re-cladding has involved adding about 18in of extra cladding to the building, and then gluing thin brick slips to the front of that. The basic structure looks very 'agricultural', basically made of plywood, chipboard and foam, and in some cases they have even left the 6in nails holding it together proud. I can only assume that the reason is to add insulation in order to meet modern house-building standards (assuming these apply to office to flat conversions). To be honest, it all looks to me as if it would struggle to survive a big storm, or an encounter with a careless Gregg's truck driver.
2016-08-19 19.01.45.jpg
One of the effects of this is the ugly, deep set windows, which are presumably still on the old building line. Another is to enlarge the side elevation where the building stands out over the pavement (see bobby1413's picture above), which together the rather assertive brick colour makes it visually much more intrusive than it used to be. A third consequence is that it destroys the symmetry of the narrow building between it and the archway, whose windows used to be in the middle of the facade but no longer are.

Just about the only good thing to say is that this looks such a cheap and shoddy job that it presumably isn't intended to last very long. There is still hope I might live long enough to see it meet its well-deserved fate.
Last edited by chris_j_wood on 22 Aug 2016 11:12, edited 2 times in total.
D6equj5

Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by D6equj5 »

Yet another example of our laughable planning and enforcement department at RBC :roflol3:
bobby1413

Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by bobby1413 »

Good points Chris - I think the fact they have those ugly pillars don't help, and the shops all set back from the main building line isn't very attractive.
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Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by ReadingT »

There is definitely some overreaction on here. Yes it doesn't look great but it's not that prominent a building nor that big and it isn't as bad as people are making out.
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Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by dave m »

All they have done is revive a 60's concrete box

From some of the comments, you'd think they had rebuilt the whole thing as a monstrosity.
IMHO they could have done better, but they didn' build the dam thing, they just tarted it up (badly)

Enforcement? We don't know if a variation was granted.

Overhang? As does the post office building in market place. At one point it was a trend to provide more upstairs space plus partial shelter for pedestrians.
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Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by Ollycat »

I don't think it's agricultural - there's no baling twine.

It's just another example of the way that nothing matches anything else in town - neither does it compliment or blend in.
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zag

Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by zag »

Its like a really bad copy of the building next door with Romans beneath it.

You can see what they are trying to do, but its basically just plastic brick effect stick on cladding.

What a disaster. This area should be the hub of cafe culture in Reading but its a monstrosity!
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Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by bobby1413 »

zag wrote:What a disaster. This area should be the hub of cafe culture in Reading but its a monstrosity!
I think this is what I was disappointed by. Some may say I overreacted and maybe I did.

The reason I did was because I posted a while back (on another thread - see here: http://www.reading-forum.co.uk/forum/vi ... 38&t=11669 )...

I basically said that that little triangle area had the potential to be a brilliant individual and unique place, but it's just so wasted. The Bristol and West arcade that you pass to get there for a start.

It's frustrating when you see and track a development which you're quite excited and interested in, only to find the end result isn't what you'd hoped for.
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Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by D6equj5 »

No change.
DSC_0078.JPG
One would have thought, once they realised the scaffolding was removed before they'd finished - they'd get it put right pretty quickly.
bobby1413

Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by bobby1413 »

Thanks for the pic D6equj5 (that was hard to write that out!).

Part of my point about that area (also see my "reading is an ugly town" thread), is stuff like this:

Image



That building there... I've lived here for 15 years and actually never noticed it. Yet it's a building which is really unique, potentially stunning and iconic, something that other towns/cities would take pride in and build things around.

Yet, what we have here is a run down dirty looking building, with a landmark monument oppositte surrounded by rusty, dirty metal fencing... and a NEWLY renovated building which looks like something from a 70s industrial estate.
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Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by ReadingT »

Other towns and cities do exactly the same, it's not just a Reading phenomenon.

There isn't the money or cooperation to have some grand plan of beautifying Reading or other towns and cities.

That's not to say there shouldn't be, but it's a bit starry-eyed to think that there would be.
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Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by bobby1413 »

ReadingT wrote:Other towns and cities do exactly the same, it's not just a Reading phenomenon.

There isn't the money or cooperation to have some grand plan of beautifying Reading or other towns and cities.

That's not to say there shouldn't be, but it's a bit starry-eyed to think that there would be.
All I would say is other towns/cities have these types of buildings as landmarks. I think as a town we struggle for some unique, eye catching buildings in that respect, particularly of the more traditional type.

I understand there may not be a massive pot of money, so my comments were without even considering the costs. I do find it frustating with all this "Year of culture" and "Reading 2050" project stuff they have going on.

I realise this is real life and it costs money, was just venting that was all so yea completely accept it's starry-eyed
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Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by chris_j_wood »

ReadingT wrote:Other towns and cities do exactly the same, it's not just a Reading phenomenon.

There isn't the money or cooperation to have some grand plan of beautifying Reading or other towns and cities.

That's not to say there shouldn't be, but it's a bit starry-eyed to think that there would be.
Actually I disagree. There is plenty of money available, given the real estate prices in Reading and the incentive they give landlords to use their land holdings efficiently. Just look at the way it was more efficient for the owners of Aldwych House to tear the old building (actually much more recent than this one) down and replace it. It just needs the right steerage by the market (that is largely us, folks).

And in any case my complaint isn't that this architectural botox job fails to beautify Reading; it is that it actively succeeds in uglyfying it.
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Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by THC »

zag wrote:
What a disaster. This area should be the hub of cafe culture in Reading but its a monstrosity!
I wouldn't want to have a coffee or a meal next to buses belching out fumes! It is a wasted area though
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Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by lizwing »

I know there's probably no alternative but I always thought it was a shame that buses have to drive through the market place. That area could have been an asset to the town but sadly it's just an ugly muddle. This building is just one more example of the general trend for ruining Reading.
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D6equj5

Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by D6equj5 »

Just the other day there was a short scaffold tower and several "workers" milling about with a couple of "suits" beneath this ludicrous mistake, all scratching their heads and pointing at the missing bits of building.
I don't expect this building will get properly finished any time soon. :roflol3:
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Re: Reading Brick meets Joe Stalin in Market Place

Post by ReadingT »

Some people get so depressed so easily!

At least it sounds like they're looking at it again to improve it. Maybe that'll stop people whinging. :whistle1:
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