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Architecture world hails Libeskind Spiral approval

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Head of major projects at the v&a Gwyn Miles said this week that the museum was confident it can raise the £75 million needed to build Daniel Libeskind's Spiral - perhaps through private donations alone. A jubilant Miles was reacting to Kensington and Chelsea planning committee's shock decision by eight votes to four to overturn a planners' report recommending refusal. It is a significant decision, hailed this week by Libeskind as a 'new horizon' and by riba president David Rock as a 'sea-change' for architecture in the uk.

'We're talking to a number of leads at the moment for private donations and we're talking about a large amount of money - it may be the entirety,' said Miles. 'We're extremely confident we'll be able to do it.'

The museum is aiming to start work next year and build the ground-breaking design by 2004, but may still resort to lottery bids to top up the cash.

Miles said the clincher at the committee was a mixture of new images showing 'how exciting it's going to be' and support from the architectural establishment. A late letter from Lord Rogers in support of the scheme was read out at the meeting, and there was another from Sir Norman Foster, but Miles said the committee seemed decided about contributing to architecture, rather than maintaining the status quo. Sir Philip Dowson, who had also written a letter of support, said it was 'a great day for architecture'.

A 'delighted' Libeskind told the aj that the decision was a victory for the democratic process in New Britain. He pointed to the fact that even the planners recognised that its qualities outweighed local issues for a project which was 'not just a bunch of cliches'.

riba president David Rock, who also wrote a letter of support, said it would be 'a fine building' and congratulated the council for 'leading the way' by being 'terribly brave but sensible at the same time'. He said: 'I think the decision has a great significance in client thinking nationally. One doesn't appreciate how much of an effect Bilbao has had.'

The report had recommended refusal because of the building's height, bulk and scale, considering it 'harmful to the character and appearance of the Queen's Gate conservation area', but recognised it as 'unusual, original and innovative' in design. The council received 22 letters of objection - from seven societies and 15 residents - and 20 letters of support - from eight bodies and 12 individuals. The Royal Fine Art Commission called it 'daring and innovative', English Heritage also gave its unanimous approval, and there were letters of support from Sir Denys Lasdun, former riba president Owen Luder, the Sheppard Robson Partnership, Lord Carrington, Lord Palumbo, Charles Jencks, Stephen Bayley, Michael Cassidy and Stuart Lipton.

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