Friday, 17 June 2011

Sir Edwin & the gardener...

Who will send me their best picture to add to the ones below
 of 1) Goddards and 2) Munstead Wood?......
Goddards: a real Inglenook, complete with side windows

Munstead Wood; the Surrey style & the home of Mrs. Jekyll.
....and some one might like to send me some text about our day out in the Surrey woods.

contributions  to

come on; you know you want to...

17 - 29 June 2011
No contributions have been sent so far, despite an e-mail sent to each member of the visit party, so....'s another picture -
elements on the Lutyens Surrey palette

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Ardwina Event

8th June 2011

What a great event! Ardwina is a proper sailing barge with great facilities, a few bunks and 'heads', a well-equipped galley and an even better-equipped bar. The main room is fantastic for just this sort of architects' event: a beautifully-catered light lunch, a few(?) drinks and a lecture.

Moored at the Tower Hill end of St Katherine's Dock, the barge has fantastic views of the Tower of London.

First up, upon arrival, was Camel Valley Vineyard's Bacchus (great name for a grape variety!), one of our own English specialities. A dry, delicate white wine, like a light, Sauvignon Blanc with more elderflower and nettle, perfect for a summer's day with the sunshine and great conversation with our guests and fellow liverymen.

After a delicious fresh buffet lunch, with marvellous salads, meats and fruits, brilliantly prepared by one of our favourite caterers, the real fun began.

We were treated to a marvellous talk by Adrian Barlow, Director of Public and Professional Programmes at Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education, and a modern polymath. Perhaps best known in the non-architectural world for his expertise in English Literature and Arts in general, Adrian is most-recognised by us architects as one of the few true experts in the art of Stained Glass. His topic: Charles Eamer Kempe (1878-1887) and his work as an interior architect, stained glass designer and producer.

Adrian gave us excellent biographical details, including Kempe's early upbringing at Ovingdean Hall, near Brighton, and his education at Rugby and Pembroke College, Oxford (must declare an interest here, as the latter was also my husband's College, more than a century later, hence the photo of the Chapel quad.)

Kempe's original plan was to become a clergyman, but his severe speech
impediment led him to take an apprenticeship with his friend, Charles
Frederick Bodley, an architect.

Kempe, though, saw Interior Design and Church Decoration as a serious
profession. Thus he decided to spread the Christian message through
design of stained glass.

So, he joined Clayton and Bell and made his first masterwork, Gloucester Cathedral's
Bishop Hooper window, still in situ.

Kempe was enamored of 15th century Gothic windows and began to imitate them.

The St Leonard window shows Kempe's early technique, quite plain and simple.

This later section of St Dorothy shows much more
detail and texture in the rendering.
According to Adrian, Kempe was a 'purist', who tried to mitigate the 'silver-staining' techniques, which cause damage, lose colour and definition (see above St Leonard!), and don't survive. So Kempe began to work in other techniques that held colour better. That said, much of his work is in the 'grissaille' style (see above St Dorothy), where definition is better and more leading evident.

After 1869 Kempe used wheatsheaf as an emblem often with fleur de lis or leaves. Foliage and
vines, as at St Michael's, Cuckfield, (below) and dragons are some of Kempe's trademarks and so is armour. The portable organ is often another way to recognise a Kempe window.

Kempe was a technician and was always keen to be careful of the design of the tracery, often positioning supporting 'saddle' bars and tie-wires on the outsides of windows to 'blunt' the horizontal lines and not obstruct the faces too much. Of course, there was the issue of corrosion...leads do fail even in a mere (?) 100 years!

As the 'master' of his atelier, some 50 people at its height, Kempe was certainly a master of his chosen art, but he was also a collaborator, with such as John Lisle at Burgess Hill.

Kempe worked with many Royals, including on the mausoleum of Prince Fritz in 1884.

Amoung his stained glass works are:

St Wulfran, Ovingdean, Sussex, 1869
St Ethelburgh, Bishopsgate, London 1871
St Mary, Folkestone, 1873-1877
St Tyrnog, Llandryrnog, Clwyd, 1877
St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh, 1878
St Bridget, West Kirby, Cheshire, 1878
Gloucester Cathedral, 1878-1887
St Congar, Badgeworth, Somerset, 1879
St Peter, Heswall, Cheshire, 1881
St Mary's, Monmouth, Gwent, 1882
All Saints, York, 1887
St John the Baptist, Burford, Oxfordshire, 1887-1907
St Mary's, Eastham, Cheshire, 1889-1903
Holy Trinity, Stirling, Scotland, 1890-1906
Lichfield Cathedral, 1894-1904
Eton College Lower Chapel, 1895-1897
Southwark Cathedral, London, 1895-1907
Winchester Cathedral, 1897-1900
St David, Exeter, Devon, 1900-1902
Malvern College, Herefordshire, 1902-1906
St Hilda's, Whitby, Yorkshire, 1902-1906

Maybe we should go and check them out.

In any case, a good day was had by all!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Valencia-the finale

Some of the other places we visited included the Valencia Exhibition Palace for the 1908 International Exhibition. The design incorporates many of the motifs and styles of previous Valencian architecture, mimicking the cathedral tower, Neoclassical facades, vaulting of La Lonja (Silk Exchange) and blue-and-white ceramic tiling. Intriguing.

Then it was off to the markets, at least the two most important. Mercado Centrale, just across the Placa from the Silk Exchange, is where the locals sell and buy the most amazing produce, meat and fish...and a few less common products, like snails.

Far more 'up-market' is Mercado Colon, just outside the old City walls. The expansion, in the latter years of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th, created an elegant-if somewhat reminiscent of turn-of-the century Paris and Vienna-neighbourhood. The decorative quality of the market is superb, inside and out.

Next, for me, anyway, was the Museo de Ceramico. The alabaster facade, designed by Hipolito Rovira and sculpted by Ignacio Vergara in the 18th century, is a tribute to Rococco at its most exuberant, or garish? Inside is a most amazing display of furniture and textiles, and, of course ceramics of all descriptions.

The intricate wall and flooring patterns were the most exciting because many of them are early examples of my patchwork patterns. In the museum they are carved and set in a myriad of marbles and granites. All the colours of the rainbow, or stone, anyway. Can't forget the Moorish influence either, since one of my absolute favourites was an Arabic fountain from the 12th century in the most beautiful of very pale sea green, dark brown and rich cream.

I rather like the rose room with exotic French-styled furniture and restrained geometric cream-and-brown flooring pattern, too.

Sunday morning was church. Although officially a secular state, Spain still holds onto its Catholic traditions. And where better than Santa Catalina, a delicate little church whose tower forms the end of La Paz?

Next, a walk around the area including another gem of a church, San Vicente Ferrer, formerly part of a Dominican monastery.

The typical Valencian blue mosaic dome and cupola have a shape reminiscent of the Moorish traditions.

Meanwhile a few images of street signs and building names.

...and a couple of less savoury artistic additions.

Last but by no means least was a visit to the Valencian San Pio V Museo des Artes. An excellent collection of Spanish art, second only to El Prado in Madrid. Perhaps a little too much on Gothic and Renaissance religious art, but it certainly helps to put Spanish artists like Zubaran, Murillo, Velasquez and even Picasso in perspective, as it were.

Then off to La Sardineria, just off the Placa de La Reina, for-what else? Sardines in two forms, one grilled and the other with a slightly spicy red pepper-based sauce. Yummy! ...and most of the crowd were locals having tipped up after church.

copyright Patricia Stefanowicz 2011

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Valencia: a foodie break, or How to Build a Great Paella

2nd June 2011

Some of you know that I am a bit of a food-and-wine-type, so it would be impossible to blog about Valencia without a comment about the local dish, Paella Valenciana. It can be delicious; it can be modest; it can be odious.

It seems as though paella was indeed developed around Valencia. The City and its surrounds are flat, very flat. There are no hills or even hillocks, but there are plenty of cienagas, marshes perfect for growing rice, cheaply and abundantly.

An ancient tale suggests that slaves of the Moorish kings' created rice dishes by mixing the remaining meats and fish from royal banquets in large pots to take back to their homes rather than chucking the dregs, as it were, out. Certainly a possibility. It is also said that the word paella stems from the Arab word baqiyah, meaning left-overs. Most linguists believe the term paella comes from the Latin word for a flat plate, patella, which was used to offer gifts to the gods. Enigma, correct?

Ignoring the romantic aspects, all that is clear is that it was mid-19th century when modern paella was created in the Albufera bay, south of Valencia, where workers in the fields cooked, for lunch/dinner, the rice-dominated dish in a flat pan over an open fire and mixed in whatever they could find, whether snails, bits of meat and freshly gathered vegetables, maybe even a little bit of orange zest from the local trees. Apparently for high-days and holy-days, chicken or rabbit were added, a sound tradition, in my view.

I (and my family!) think that my recipe, although not totally authentic, is superior to any we ate there this visit, partly because I use both chicken and seafood.

Herewith the Stefanowicz version of Spanish paella for 8-10 people, maybe more or maybe fewer:


200g diced pancetta or salt pork
6 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1-1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1/4 c. virgin olive oil, Spanish preferred, as it's sweeter than French
1 tsp. powdered coriander
8-10 chicken thighs with skin
1-2 lb steamed lobster, if available, cut into serving pieces (optional)
Sardines, braised, if desired, or even chunky-meaty fish, such as cod or halibut (not too much, though, as they might give the paella a really fishy flavour.)
500g raw tiger prawns, shelled, although tails may be left on, if desired
2 chorizos, cooked and sliced into 1/4" thick slices
3/4 c. roughly chopped yellow onions
1 tsp. crushed whole saffron
2 Tbsp. capers, roughly chopped
2/3 c. tinned tomatoes, roughly chopped with a little juice
1 c. dry white wine
2-1/2 c. medium-grained uncooked white rice (worse case, use long-grained or short-grained, not basmati, but adjust cooking times)
3-1/2 c. (approximately) chicken stock, tinned or home-made, un-diluted, (or worst-case, from stock cubes)
20 mussels, de-bearded and scrubbed but not cooked
20 small clams, well-rinsed, but not cooked
1 medium jar of artichoke hearts, well-rinsed if in oil, drained if in brine
1 c. frozen peas
1/4 c. marinated sliced red peppers, not spicy

Black pepper
Lemon juice
Lemon wedges for serving


I use a heavy, oven-proof 4-quart casserole or high-sided pan rather than a paella pan, as the paella pan tends to permit the bottom to burn.

Saute on medium heat the pork until the fat is liquid and the pork bits are browned. Remove the pork and hold aside.

Mix the minced garlic, thyme, vinegar, oil and coriander in a mid-sized bowl. Add the uncooked chicken and coat throughly. Marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in the pork fat (with a little extra oil if needed) saute the prawns quickly, adding the lobster pieces at the end, until both are bright pink but not over-cooked. Remove and reserve.

Saute the sliced chorizos for 5-8 minutes, if pre-cooked, 10-12 minutes if un-cooked. Remove and reserve.

Brown the coated chicken in the pot. Sprinkle in onion, capers, saffron and tomatoes. Saute, stirring, for 2-3 minutes.

Return the pork bits to the pot. Add the wine, rice and 3 cups of chicken broth. Season with pepper (and salt, if desired, but I don't usually add salt). Cover and steam for about 12-15 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F/175 degrees C.

Meanwhile, boil a little water, around 1/4-to 1/2 c., in another pot, add the mussels and clams until open, around 3-5 minutes. Discard any that aren't at least partly open.

When rice is mostly cooked, add the prawns, lobster, sardines or other fish, artichoke hearts, and peas to the chicken and rice mixture and cook on the stove-top, uncovered for about 10 minutes more. If all the liquid is absorbed, add liquid from the mussels/clams or more chicken broth.

Remove from heat. Add red peppers and chorizos and mussels and clams and mix thoroughly but gently.

Cover and reheat in the oven for around 10 minutes. If the dish is to be kept warm for up to 30 minutes, reduce heat to 200 degrees F/125 degrees C.

When ready to serve, remove from oven, stir in lemon juice and black pepper to taste and serve with lemon wedges.

...and preferably a 1973/1978/1994/1997/2001/2004/2007 Ribero del Duero or a Rioja Reserva from the same vintages. If those aren't available, well, any good quality 'soft' red wine will do, but Tempranillo/Cencibel/Tinto de Toro/Tinto Roriz (all the same grape variety by the way) is preferred. If not, in a pinch, head for the southern Rhone, Garnacha-based, red. Anything Rhone-ish will suffice.

copyright Patricia Stefanowicz MW 2011

Valencia, Saturday 14th May-Foster, then the Beach

14th May 2011

Our intrepid guide, Malek, then led us onwards and upwards. A must-see is Norman Foster's Palacio de Congresos, a couple of kilometres away in the Benimamet district, an infertile area northwest of the Ciutat Vella.

Foster's design is bold and expressive. But, as we all know, the gods are in the details and this building certainly provides ample evidence of that; ironmongery and glazing impeccably fitted with the stainless fixings also beautifully rendered.

The glass fins to the side of the 'break-out- space are very nicely done, too. And the cooling, gently lapping pools of water add a touch of the sea to the venue.

Shame about the surrounding hotels slightly overpowering the centre itself, but, to be fair, they are certainly reflective of the 'plasticity-genre' of Valencia's heritage. I rather liked the beautiful white marble (75mm thick) slabs, which I've been assured were sourced from near the Rioja region in the north of Spain. Perfectly plausible, given the limestone sub-base throughout most of Spain, but these could easily have been Cararra marble.

The landscape architecture is also appropriate with plenty of trees and geraniums in evidence around the bases of the buildings and in the surrounding-though 'weenie'- parkspaces.

No question that Valencia is taking its public spaces and parks seriously. On one of the more crowded roundabouts is a spectacular sculpture of the Dama Iberica by emigre-to-New York Manolo Valdes, depicting two heads, all in cobalt blue, large-scale 'trencadis', so completely fitting alongside Valencia's cobalt domes.

Inter alia Malek showed us a building for a kindergarten, with which he was involved.

Admittedly the purposefully rusted mild-steel is a little bit unusual, but there is plenty of greenery and we managed to glimpse some colourful walls inside and out.

What would a visit to Valencia be without a view of the football grounds? Located right next to the sculpture pictured above is the new Valencia CF stadium. Started in 2007 by Reid Fenwick and Partners, construction has been halted because the money has stopped flowing. There are hopes that the stadium will not become another carbuncle. Valencia-the 3rd 'biggest' football side in Spain after Barca and Real-need the additional seats, 70K here with private boxes, top-quality catering, integral carparking and irrigation under the natural grass pitch. Perhaps Wembley could take note, rather then replace its grass for an 'umpteenth' time? Mind you, €30 billion makes most of us squeal rather a lot!

We also had to take in a view of the rather decrepit current stadium, too, just to keep our perspective.

Levante (definitely the 'second club of Valencia') didn't get a look-in this time, although we heard tickets for Sunday evening were available?

Valencia's Port, only a few kilometres from the city, has long existed, since the time of the Romans at least. But, it wasn't really developed as a 'modern' working port without the sandy beaches until the 19th century.

Nonetheless, the Gothic arches of the warehouses are still around, as are the 19th century buildings, like the Clock Building and the (by British standards) late Victorian grand hotels.

Despite being a port, much of the food is a little like Eastbourne...a bit boring, although jamon iberico along the large and very flat beach was acceptable and went just fine with a couple of San Miguel cervezas and a few marinated anchoas.

Far more interesting is some of the recent architecture. Valencia is truly excited about the Veles e Vents by David Chipperfield, and we are, too. Clean lines, bright white concrete and blue glass, it looks as if it might take sails and ship out, in fact. Beautifully detailed and very nicely executed. Symbolic of America's Cup.

Sexy stuff, actually.
So, who's next on our afternoon agenda? Renzo Piano, of course!

Another little gem by dear Renzo; this for the Italian America's Cup team. Red-and-grey, not precisely the Italian flag, but-hey! With the wonderfully etched and subtle-coloured grey, lemon, rose and beige glass, what's not to love?

What an excellent loft conversion!

copyright Patricia Stefanowicz 2011

Valencia Visit, Saturday 14th May-Calatrava's Bridges and a few other bits

14th May 2011

With our superb guide Malek, the intrepid architects commenced an ambitious day of architectural sites. First up was a quick view of the Estacion del Norte, the north railway station, designed by architect Demetrio Ribes and engineer Enrique Gasset in 19o6, according to Viennese 'Secession' principles. The facade is a tribute to Valencian oranges; the ceramic tile mosaics are railway and travel motifs of the era, memories of the ceramic history. In the entry lobby are mosaics wishing travellers, 'Bueno viaje,' in multiple languages.

Just across the road is the Plaza de Toros, the bullring. When completed in 1860, it was the largest in Spain. Made entirely of red brick, including the arches, apart from the wooden balustrades, painted bright white. Impressively large and a lovely contrast to the railway station.

Whizzing past many of the city's memorable architectural masterpieces, including the City Hall, Post Office and Telephone Exchange in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, all eclectic in style, as predominates in 'official' architecture, according to Malek. Tall red domes and a vertigo-inducing central clock tower are-to say the least-'inspiring.'

Many of us are now assured that Valencia is Calatrava's city, much as Barcelona is Gaudi's. Maybe?

So, with our impeccable guide, Malek, we are on a trek to the 'head of the River'...well, perhaps not precisely, but the point at which the northern course of the Turis river was diverted to the south on its way to the Mediterranean. What's there?

For a start there is the Parque de Cabecera, about 150K square metres of waterways, artificial hills and plenty of greenery...and a few dodgy buildings serving as the official entrance to the Zoo. Since the entrance to the Zoo is on the opposite side of the waterway from the parking, needed was a footbridge-'part of the experience', perhaps. What's the other part? Getting bit by a snake?

Needless to say, the Parque designers (Arantxa Munoz, Eduardo de Miguel and Vicente Corell) weren't best pleased about the bright white form detracting from their perfectly conceived parque, but actually I think it's fair. If only we could destroy those buildings...

The furthest up-stream bridge, Calatrava's Puente del 9 d'Octubre-named after the date when Jaime I rescued Valencia from the Moors in 1238-isn't very impressive above ground, although some of the details are extremely well-done.

Underneath, the bridge shows the genius of Calatrava: one side open with exposed steel columns; the other with plastic concrete supports, reminiscent of Brancusi, actually.

The concrete 'bridge', exposed concrete on this under-belly, shows formwork marks and a softer, un-bleached hue.

Then there are the very sexy-if unmaintained-railings on the ramp and the plastic side walls, so obviously derived from Gaudi's forms at Casa Batllo or Casa Mila and the Parc Guell.

A couple of 'interesting' details here: one of the light-covers above the steel-supported side of the bridge and the other of the drainage 'drops'. Not sure the latter work very well as rainwater doesn't seem to hit the 'splash-blocks' below, so water is gradually eroding the concrete. The iconography? No comment.

Another of Calatrava's bridges, la Puente y estacion de metro de la Exposicion, known as 'La Peineta' to the Valencians. Quintessential Calatrava, all bright-white blasted-and-bleached concrete.

Some interesting details, too, including the pyramidal shapes for the air-extracts. Promise, the kiddos on skateboards love whizzing around them!

The metro station has an interesting set of skylights, although perhaps a little too dark for my preference, like the Washington DC equivalent.

But the geometry in the plaza above is really rather attractive and certainly evocative of the ceramic 'trencadis', which covers most of the walls in the metro station and quite a lot outside.

Interesting anecdote that Calatrava had to add extra supports for the glass because the kiddos' skateboards and bicycles were breaking the larger pieces of glass on a far too regular basis! Perhaps not as elegant as originally planned?

Next stop Foster... at the Palacio de Congresos.
copyright Patricia Stefanowicz 2011