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Enjoying the follies of dodgy details


So a flurry of knowing indignation at the AJ's Working Details, starting with a rather neat Wendy house (AJ 20.1.05), progressing to an on-the-edge gutter/parapet detail (AJ 27.1.05) that produced a call for the AJ to vet its details to ensure good practice (AJ 10.2.05). Wait a minute - this all seems to be horribly serious. I have always loved the Working Details pages and part of the pleasure is seeing how other architects tackle the same old problems, especially when you feel that tang of pleasure in thinking 'I wouldn't have done it like that'.

Under Sue Dawson's knowing eye, Working Details has, over the years, ensured that buildings that may seduce under the camera's eye are dissected to reveal their inner thinking. After all, this is what makes architecture and keeps our collective feet on the ground (no DPM) - after all, detail is design. The wonderful reciprocal relationship between the detail (making) and the design (made) of the building is a fundamental benchmark of great architecture - one driving idea forming both.

Yet imagine AJ Working Details of most of the great buildings of the 20th century: Barragán's house - no handrails on the staircase? ;

Corb's white villas - those flat roofs won't work; Mies' Farnsworth house (pictured above) - Part L, you must be joking! ; anything by Frank Lloyd Wright - shouldn't leave works of art out in the rain.

No, best practice, while we all aspire to this, is not the point.

Relax, enjoy the follies of dodgy DPCs, reduced upstands, cold bridges, poor weathering detail - it is only a Corb building. Smile, check your PI and use lots of mastic.

John Pardey, Lymington, Hampshire

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