Wednesday, 3 June 2009
823 - Monkey High Soft Play Area
Did you guess right?
Monkseaton High School is sponsored by, among others, Microsoft. I use Microsoft. As it has a de facto monopoly on workplace and home software, I don't have a choice. It's okay, usually, but it's not brilliant.
So to see its branding scattered over the top of a school, where the bright colours and excess make it look like a fairy-cake decorated by a hyperactive five-year-old, packs a visceral punch. Unless it is toned down, this architectural statement says to me: you've got no choice in the brave new world we're building. Get used to it. You're globalised brand-fodder.
I guess it's not realistic, if Microsoft have put such money into the project, for no acknowledgement of their generosity to be made. I'd hate for local councillors to have to exercise their courage and actually stand up to the business. Who stands for genuinely unbiased education nowadays anyway?
But think of the scale of the branding. Not just how out of place it looks on top of a genuinely impressive new building, but how it lies across our field of vision, seventy or so feet up, as we look across green fields towards the coast, or out of our beds as we recuperate at North Tyneside NHS Hospital, or from miles around as we travel on the Metro to and from Newcastle. The only scale on which such an outsize logo could possibly seem appropriate is the one offered by the Google Earth Satellite. Oh. Maybe I see.
But look, Microsoft UK. You're shooting yourself in the foot. Do you really want to present yourself as perpetrators of an exercise in local disempowerment? Particularly when it's a school, with kids, for heavens's sake? Take a screen-grab from your own software. I'm looking at the Windows logo at the foot of my screen. It's tiny. It's plenty big enough to remind me whose software I'm using. But any bigger and it would get in the way.
Therefore, by all means leave four coloured blocks on top of Monkseaton High School to remind us of your investment - one red, one green, one yellow, one blue. But paint the other twenty or so grey, in keeping with the rest of the school. For enlightened self-interest, if nothing else.