City Hopping

At our June meeting, we enjoyed an interesting talk by Keith Cattell on the English House. So when our speaker for October found problems in attending, the Committee invited Keith to make a return visit. We were not disappointed as Keith took us through city history and design from 1400BC to the present day, all in ninety minutes. Keith is an accomplished raconteur, who easily slips from era to era as he takes you on an exploration of life behind his colour slides. We all took away some new information. Starting with Mycene, one of the earliest of Greek cities, we remained in Greece to look at the Acropolis and particularly the Parthenon. Why does it look so graceful? Who would have thought that the answer lies in mathematics? On we pressed to Rome, looking at Triumphal Arches and the Temple of Castor and Pollox, which you don't need to travel to Rome to see. Birmingham Town Hall is a good copy! The reign of Charlemagne brought us looking at early European architecture at Aachen and Venice, before we moved on to view architecture in Bruges, Prague and Dubrovnik.

Keith's unrelenting pace never lost stalled as we examined the architectural wonders he showed to us. St Peter's Cathedral in Rome could not be bettered for its sheer scale and boldness, not only architecturally but structurally. Just how does the dome stay up there? We learned the secret! The theme of majesty continued with visits to St Petersberg and Versailles, before we turned to look at the nineteenth century design and engineering skills which have given us the Eiffel Tower and magnificent railway station sheds like St. Pancras. We concluded, breathless, by way of Gaudi's surreal architecture in Barcelona, the Art Deco Movement, the "inside out" Pompideau Centre in Paris and finally public art in Oslo.

This was a truly captivating talk where all members of the audience learned e something new about world architecture. Keith will be talking to us again, I'm sure.

Roger Hockney
October 2009