The Ramostyle building on Noel Street is ugly from a combination of bad design and neglect, occupying a slender gap between two more substantial and better cared for blocks. It is semi-derelict on its lower two storeys, though the ground floor is in the process of being refurbished. Burglar alarms litter the fringes of the walls like lapel badges on a leather jacket: An off-white shield-shaped casing, prominently displaying the Banham company logo; a blue rectangular one with lots of tiny writing on it; an orange/yellow hexagon.
In the gloom of the deep-set porch there is the suggestion of a door, slanted away from the pavement at an unwelcoming angle. Adjacent to it a large plate glass window, filled, in its entirety, by a cream-coloured blind composed of tiny horizontal rectangles, obscures the unevenly lit room beyond. The only clue to its contents is provided by the murky silhouette of a flat, squarish object, propped up against the interior face of the pane.
Above the window a matt grey sign, smudged with faint vertical streaks of rust and grime. bears the name of the building embossed in capitals and set apologetically off-centre. In the blank space to the right of it somebody has pasted a quintet of bill posters – three in a row advertising the debut album by Maverick Sabre, followed by two for new single by Azari & III; indicators of a city racing ahead of its redevelopers, reclaiming the unused space of a property in limbo.
Beyond ground level a narrow grey facade, incorporating two separate columns of windows on each floor, is flanked on either side by pillars of dark red brick. The windows on the first floor have an empty, abandoned look about them, obscured by grubby, white, vertical strip blinds. On the left these have been pulled to one side exposing a thin triangle of dust and darkness.
The remaining storeys above are well lit and appear to function as offices.
A woman on the fourth floor is waving at two middle-aged couples who are standing on the pavement on the opposite side of the street. Separated from each other by the road, a row of parked mopeds, the glass and concrete skin of the building, and four flights of stairs, they garnish an enthusiastic shared conversation on a mobile phone with improvised semaphore.