Concrete and Gothic

Coventry seems a bit of an odd place to me. You arrive in the train station to be confronted by stairs. Lots of them and they are all concrete. Those of you wishing to use escalators should bring their own. A Japanese man who got off the train with two suitcases and a ruck sack was stopped dead in his tracks by the sight of this concrete staircase cum mountain. He cursed profusely in his native language.

From the train station you can access the centre by going through concrete underpasses whose corners are cut sharp with a geometry designed to suggest that an assault is imminent. Once you arrive you discover a grey concrete jungle probably commissioned in the sixties when brutality seemed like the way forwards.

It’s a strange mixture of dark medieval and brutal sixties.  Concrete and Gothic in one square mile.  In this image below they have installed a clock in a brick wall which celebrates the Peeping Tom / Lady Godiva story.  So once an hour, a pervert eyes up a naked woman.  It’s the sort of thing that only borough councils can do this well.  You can bet one of the reasons funding was approved was because this monstrosity will bring tourists into the city centre. I can mock but I spent valuable time waiting for the big event.

This is outside the cathedral.

If we go for the long shot, we can see that it’s an angel’s victory over Satan or someone, so in that context, genitalia and chains are OK.

The medieval and the modern cathedral are right next to each other and they make quite a contrast.

I’ve already mentioned the different architectural styles at odds with each other, but the medieval cathedral has no roof having suffered from Nazi bombing during the war.  It’s a ruin rather than a building.  The problem with Coventry is not that it had to be rebuilt but that it was rebuilt in a style which didn’t match the surviving parts of the city centre.

OK, so it was the style to build in grey concrete at the time, but didn’t anyone have any taste?  Did they really sit down with the designs and think, this will go really well with the old town?

If I spent more time there I may discover its charms but the home of the Sky Blues leaves me perplexed.

20 thoughts on “Concrete and Gothic

  1. The sado-masochism of christianity – preserved and sponsored by contemporary politics and government councils. We have this sorta stuff in major australian cities also. And concrete that assaults humans. Not much gothic tho.


  2. Pingback: 2012 « Monochrome
  3. Loved your post. I was actually born in Coventry, but left when I was just weeks old. (Mam’s fault- I didn’t pack a suitcase or anything) Only been back once (on a school trip) so not really qualified to express an opinion.


  4. I love the “brutal sixties”. Even here where our oldest architecture is at best 300 years, and that’s usually a log cabin, the sixties ideal of modernity didn’t coordinate with anything around it.


    1. I’m not against the architecture completely. It has a style and looks good in monochrome. But, up close when you have to live and walk in it, it can be unpleasant and very cold. I think it the blog post my main objection is that it doesn’t go with other styles and not enough thought went into planning the city centre.



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