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Gough's point-scoring sells Morrison short


Your publication of a summary of Graham Morrison's speech at the AJ/Bovis Awards ('Taming those troublesome icons', AJ 8.7.04) and the response by Piers Gough opens a debate that could be worthwhile if it is not conducted on the basis of personal point-scoring.

Gough misses the point - Morrison is not 'anti-icon' (as a reading of the full text of his speech on your website makes clear), but he is arguing for integrity and authenticity, and to restore a situation where the outward expression of a building does not compromise or contradict its programme and content.

At its core, the argument is that architecture is about specifics; of place-making and space-making, and not about creating a language of iconic 'types' that can be used to create symbols without substance - in any context, regardless of content. Such specific concerns require a more considered response from the profession than the 'one-liner' of empty rhetoric.

The danger of loading architecture with symbolic meanings that it cannot support is that, paradoxically, it becomes less intelligible to its users and speaks only to itself.

Euan Durston, London

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