Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Saturday, December 7, 2013


One day this week, a balmy Vancouver kind of winter day (the rare non-rainy kind, I hasten to add), I parked my car downtown, far enough from my destinations that I had to walk, in order to enjoy the warm sun. Without the need to bury my ears in my collar, I was free to look about me, look up at rooftops and treetops, and see...mashups.

A mashup usually describes the creation of a new musical work by blending two or more elements. The architectural mashups I enjoyed consisted of one or more buildings of very different eras and/or styles, the whole somehow more than its parts.

Of course, the light was perfect. Mashups appeared around every corner. And my trusty camera was at home.

Above, two very modern structures in Toronto, viewed from the lawn of Osgoode Hall. The former makes a nod to Gothic form, the background, to a ziggurat with stepped projections. And April buds. It all works.

To the right, the Bank of Montreal on Yonge Street (I seem to recall) with mirrored towers looming behind. The only connection between the towers and the resolutely grey horizontal Beaux Arts bank might be the verticality of its top floor windows.

Left, a Vancouver streetscape taken on East Pender. The arches of a Romanesque inspired stone building and the repeated round-headed windows of an adjacent brick Italianate are echoed in the colour and curves of a modern residential building with its treetop forest.

Right, the east pavilion of the robust Neoclassical Osgoode Hall on Queen Street, with the futuristic 1965 new City Hall looming in the background. No apparent connection but for the arched forms, the sidewalk's curve and the greyness, oh the greyness.

Below, a foggy day shot of two very appealing buildings in downtown Thunder Bay. I love the massive colonnade of the Arthur Erickson-designed post-modern Province of Ontario building juxtaposed with the quirky 1909 tourism pagoda, declared a national historic site in 1986 because of its unique classical-Asian fusion architecture.

Mashups, love them. Look for more here. The next time I'm in downtown Belleville, with sun and a camera.

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