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Hayes is right to take public's point of view


John Hayes, the Conservative shadow minister of planning and housing, should not be downcast by the chorus of condemnation from the high priests of architecture (AJ 21.4.05).

His comment that 'much that was built in this country between 1955 and 1995 wouldn't be missed' represents the heartfelt view of the public. According to a recent poll of 2,000 people conducted for the Cheltenham & Gloucester building society, the 10 most-loved buildings in Britain were all built more than a century ago, and all but one of the 10 most hated buildings were erected after the Second World War. Ironically, the most hated work of all is the Millennium Dome, designed by that cheerleader for the cognoscenti and glitterati, Lord Rogers.

Your article takes a swipe at Hayes for liking Poundbury, but again, considering what the theoreticians of Modern architecture have given us (Harlow, Bracknell, Cumbernauld, etc), his preference for Poundbury is completely understandable and shared by the public.

In fact, considering the long succession of failed experiments to which the public has been subjected by Modern planners and architects (high-rise public housing blocks to replace traditional housing on the ground with lively streets and private gardens; leaking flat roofs to replace attractive and functional pitched roofs;

hideous rain-stained concrete to replace much-loved bricks and tiles) ordinary people are justified in no longer wishing to subject their own hard-won views to the modish theories of professors and pundits.

Though not insensitive to the attractions of Modern design (my most recent book is a wellreceived monograph on Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House, published by Phaidon Press), I, like Hayes, find myself wholeheartedly on the side of the users of architecture rather than the producers. To use an old leftwing slogan: trust the people!

Maritz Vandenberg, London

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