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a life in architecture - julia neuberger

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Rabbi Julia Neuberger regularly walks through London's Regent's Park on her way to work. She relishes its mixture of formality and naturalness: 'Those almost over-the-top plant arrangements, but the birds and ducks all over the place because they can't really be kept under control.'

As chief executive of the King's Fund, her office is in Cavendish Square, in two adjoining Adamstyle buildings with a bronze Madonna and Child by Epstein over a central archway. A modern rear extension was converted by Latham Architects in the 1990s for the King's Fund. Neuberger admires the way in which Latham's conversion interweaves the various parts of the building.

Here, too, there is an oasis: 'The inner courtyard and garden which pull all disparate spaces together, to create an environment which is conducive to thought and reflection in the centre of London.'

(see picture) Her final choice is the old part of Guy's Hospital, in south London.

She finds it 'absolutely magical, and not only architecturally. It has open terrace areas where patients could be in the fresh air but still be protected from rain. And although it was built in 1722, at a time before infection was understood, there are parts which can be closed off to provide isolation.

Everything has been carefully thought through to produce a sense of a really healing environment. 'And that, 'says Neuberger, 'is something we have been bad at doing until relatively recently.'

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