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a life in architecture

Three very different spaces delight Tariq Ali, playwright, novelist and political commentator. The first is a new residential Institute for Women's Studies in Lahore, designed by Fawzia Qureshi, a young Pakistani woman architect. Ali describes it as a three-storey building, on a tiny plot, which carefully combines Islamic and Modernist design traditions and fosters a sense of community; internal spaces, including a courtyard and terraces, are bathed in natural light.

The Grand Mosque, in Cordoba (pictured), is his second choice. He talks of 'the forest of pillars that greets you as you enter and that monstrosity of a Catholic church which has been implanted at its heart, like a stake, yet doesn't detract from the mosque - a world in which you can still lose yourself'.

Ali has lived close to Hamp-stead Heath for much of his adult life: 'I know it intimately ... The bathing ponds are a throwback to Edwardian England. One is amazed that in spite of all that has happened in the name of commerce they are still there.' But he worries about increasing signs of encroachment, such as the growing size and noise of summer concerts and the practice of renting Kenwood House 'for vulgar weddings', signs that are making him nervous for the future of the Heath. He hopes New Labour will have the sense to preserve it.

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