A YEAR OF THE NEW AJ: TAKING STOCK OF OUR READERS' RESPONSE
It's been a year since we launched the new AJ, and it's fair to say that the reaction has been mixed. The Glaswegian architect Jim Cuthbertson delivered the first and most succinct response with the single word 'appalling', and though the letters of complaint have become steadily longer, he has remained true to this verdict ever since. The esteemed architect/academician Peter Cook has taken a particularly dim view of the AJ's fondness for low-key architecture, going so far as to criticise its aesthetic choices in a public lecture.
A more recent letter, from a reader who wishes to remain anonymous, implored: 'Please, please, please can you temper your obsession with the architecture of the English puritans. It's depressing, and it's beginning to make me feel ill.'
I wouldn't be reporting this in quite so blithe a manner were it not for the fact that subscriptions are on the up and that the positive responses have far outnumbered the expressions of disdain. (I'm not going to mention the awards we've won for fear of reawakening the wrath of the reader who brusquely pointed out that 'all manner of worthless rubbish wins awards'. ) Support has come from some unexpected quarters: Alain de Botton reports that the arrival of the AJ is one of the high points of his week; the political commentator Jeremy Vine has publicly proclaimed the new AJ to be 'brilliant' and Grand Designs guru Kevin McCloud lists the AJ as his favourite reading matter - alongside Farming Equipment News.
But architects, of course, matter to us the most. It is a privilege to work on a magazine which engenders such a strong sense of ownership, and architects' feedback is hugely valuable. We are enormously grateful both to those who have taken the trouble to articulate their disquiet, and to the vast majority of readers who have greeted the changes with such enthusiasm and warmth.