Rough & Ready

This weekend I’ve been thinking about the fine line we tread when leaving surfaces raw.I’ve got a serious thing for features like exposed brickwork and an intersecting steel beam in buildings, both commercial and domestic, as long as theres a cushion and a splash of colour to ease the harshness. One of the reasons I love construction is seeing a perfectly painted wall and knowing the mayhem and naturally in-perfect materials that lie behind. Running my hand over smooth polished concrete columns or feeling the roughness of raw bricks is definitely a big part of enjoying a building for me.

This weekend I had a look at two buildings that had naked walls and floors, each with a completely different outcome. The first, and favourite, was Peter’s Pizzeria in Loughborough. Not only is the food delicious (and well within a students budget), but the atmosphere was wonderful too. Peter’s had both brick and block walls, abutted smartly with crisp painted edges and even window filler, but the neatness of the seams let us know it all deliberate. It also had plenty of little details, which always look great displayed on a simple backdrop.

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Taking things to a new extreme is the new Urban Outfitters in Nottingham. I’m still in two minds about this one. It wouldn’t be unfair to say it looks like they’ve left the job half finished and put up some shelves – although the shelves are really nice. It’s also worth noting that I may only have noticed these things because of my profession, but I question the structural integrity of the building, and there were quite few areas we avoided due to half suspended bricks in the ‘ceiling’ above. Some of it looks great, like carefully chosen shelving picks out the hinting tones in the patterned plaster and the maze of sprinkler pipes above. Unfortunately, elsewhere there is jagged mesh and concrete threatening to poke a hole in your clothes (if not your skin) if you got too close, and with the rails packed so close and so many eager shoppers weaving about it seemed a very present danger. All that said, there are some lovely examples of industrial materials and naked finishes, but I’m still unconvinced that this is ready, and not just rough.

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