ONE OF your correspondents a few weeks ago (Observer, November 10) described the nearly completed Chichester museum (‘the Novium’) as ‘the Staatliche Bauhaus blockhouse’.
The design of the flats to be built north of it, recently passed by district council planners as you report (January 5), calls to mind a slightly later period of German architecture, namely the style once brilliantly described by Peter Cook as ‘Early Hitler’. The building certainly looks like something Albert Speer might have thought up on an off-day.
Incidentally, I’m referring to the illustration on the architects’ own website, since the council planning department’s website, which ought to show the design somewhere, is completely impenetrable to an outsider.
Meanwhile, a new museum of similarly unappealing and inappropriate appearance has just opened in Colchester, Chichester’s sister Roman city. This has immediately earned the nickname ‘The Golden Banana’, besides other ruder epithets. London of course among its recent buildings can
boast ‘the Erotic Gherkin’ and the ‘Glass Testicle’ (alias Boris Johnson’s City Hall).
But it’s the Irish who are the most original in this naming business. Examples of so-called ‘public art’ in Dublin are routinely given such labels as ‘The Tart with the Cart’ (a statue of Molly Malone), ‘The Prick with the Stick’ (another of James Joyce) and ‘The Floozie in the Jacuzzi’ (a personification of the River Liffey, now alas removed from O’Connell Street).
Our new museum may indeed remain ‘The Blockhouse’ to future Cicestrians; but surely something more inventive is called for. Can any of your readers come up with a suggestion?