Philip Watts enjoys the feelings of oppression he gets when inside Libeskind’s Jewish Museum. But inside the prison of Sheffield’s Parkhill Estate all he wants is to get out
My wonder is Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish museum in Berlin, which opened in 2001. It’s the one piece of architecture that has been built in the past 20 to 30 years that moves you when you are in it. It really tweaks the emotions. For example, there’s a room inside it that is architecturally aggressive and makes you feel what it was like to be in a gas chamber.
Then in the garden there are a lot of concrete pillars that you can’t see out from behind and make you feel small – like a Jew in Nazi Germany surrounded by the kind of architecture that they deployed.
My blunder is the Parkhill Estate in Sheffield, designed by Jack Lynn and Ivor Smith and inspired by Le Corbusier’s Unité d'Habitation. I’d like to say that I liked it because it was oppressive and brutalist, but in fact it is just rubbish. It’s a giant, vulgar prison and is generally an appalling place for people to live in.
I daresay it might have a great view from the top, but it’s really an example of ruthlessly stupid town planning.
Philip Watts, architectural ironmonger and interior designer, will be the subject of a retrospective at Nottingham Trent University from 16 November to 9 December. The show includes everything from Elton John’s door handles to a melting staircase