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Francophobia

The Royal Gold Medal and fellowships extravaganza at the RIBA last week was the usual star-studded event, with gold medallists Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron rubbing shoulders with international fellows including Odile Decq and Kazuyo Sejima and honorary fellows including Ken Livingstone and Kevin McCloud. Denise Scott Brown, who couldn’t be there to pick up her international fellowship, sent Rem Koolhaas to pick up the honour on her behalf. The real star of the evening, however, was the Swiss ambassador, possibly the only man ever to have upstaged Herzog and de Meuron. Delivering a vote of thanks at the end of the evening he said: ‘People have been asking me whether Herzog and de Meuron are considered iconic in Switzerland. We do not have iconic personalities in Switzerland, we just have highly respected people’. It was left to the assembled company to infer whether Jacques and Pierre came into that category or not. There was, however, little doubt as to his excellency’s respect for the original Swiss starchitect, Le Corbusier, despite the fact that ‘later he became French’. The ambassador’s final word on the matter? ‘Nobody’s perfect’.

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