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A Tristram's tea-party and six convicted vicars

Dr Sutherland Lyall

The AR’s pick from the world wide web

I’m never sorry to see a ministerial knock-back to a listed building punt by the fogies at English Heritage (EH). But UK Architecture Minister’s reasons for rejecting The Southbank Centre suggest that EH has been out-fogied by Penrose’s own nameless afternoon tea party of Tristrams. Sorry advisors. He (more likely they) are reported by sister weekly, The Architects’ Journal, to have said ‘…aspects of the Southbank Centre…have never functioned as intended, the architecture is poorly resolved, the structures are not unique or groundbreaking and the individuals behind Archigram had limited influence on the building’s design.’

You want to ask precisely which bits have ‘never functioned as intended’ and what that means exactly. The architecture is how ‘poorly resolved’? Possibly to classicist-Nazis who have always liked parts neatly balanced either side of an imaginary centre line. Just take a brief look at contemporary architecture of a similar scale (or any of the rubbish EH has promoted to architectural beatitude) for ‘unique and groundbreaking’. And, having heard at first hand over quite a few years Archigram’s Ron Herron recounting how he and Warren Chalk used a great roll of detail paper to talk up their radical proposals to the GLC architectural panjadrums I suspect the sources Penrose’s Tristrams have consulted is mere idle chatter amongst themselves in the tea room. For the record when Herron and Chalk – and later Dennis Crompton - worked on the Southbank, Archigram was not even a twinkle in the eye of Peter Cook. So Penrose and his crew got that wrong too.

I’ve just received the first Christmas-related email of the year from a company offering venues for festive season parties. It is, er, the third week of September. And no, I’m not giving the guilty party a free puff.

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