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CRITIC'S CHOICE

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REVIEW

While RIBA and V&A curators labour to make convincing temporary shows in the cramped corridor-like space beside the permanent architecture gallery at the V&A, their colleagues at the Royal Academy face similar problems in staging their 'Architecture on the Ramp' exhibitions.

Essentially they're stuck with the overspill area to the restaurant, at the bottom of a ight of stairs. There's no room to display anything in three dimensions, while works on the wall suffer too because the tables beneath them are usually occupied, so you can't inspect them closely.

It's a pity because the current show, Facing the Facade, continuing until 31 January, suggests its curators could do something really interesting, given a more suitable space.

The premise is that 'many contemporary architects are looking for new ways of treating facades and imbuing them with significance', which is clearly the case and could easily support a much larger exhibition. With glimpses of projects by Eric Parry, Ian Ritchie, Will Alsop and Diller Scofidio + Renfro (whose Blur building is pictured above), this one can only skim the surface, but the explanatory notes accompanying it help to give it more substance than appears at first.

What such a subject really needs, of course, are some material samples, which are hardly feasible in this space.

In their absence, a sleek black painting by Jason Martin, which generates Baroque 3-D illusions (like swirling drapery) as your viewpoint and the incidence of light change, suggests some of the facade effects which architects can explore ( www. royalacademy. org. uk/architecture).

Meanwhile the RA continues its series of architecture forums examining the ideas and legacy of Jane Jacobs; Richard MacCormac and Ted Cullinan were among the contributors from the oor at the first of them last month.

On 29 January at 18.30 the topic is the 'moral, social and economic' aspects of her work; on 19 February, it's the current practice of masterplanning, seen in Jacobs' light. And at the RA on 26 January, Trevor Dannatt will be in conversation with Alan Powers, discussing the South Bank, conservation, and his collection of Modern art (tickets 020 7300 5839).

For forthcoming events visit www. ajplus. co. uk/diary

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