DIANA FOUNTAIN IS A VICTIM OF ITS OWN SUCCESS
It may console Neil Porter of Gustafson Porter (AJ 29.03.07) to know that on a steaming hot July afternoon last year there were far more people cooling off at the Diana Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park than were across the road at the Rem Koolhaasdesigned Serpentine Pavilion.
In terms of 'behind-closed-doors' testing of landscape projects, it is not uncommon for designers to snag play features by inviting the children of design and/or construction teams to a preopening party on site. Had that happened on the Diana project, the -rm might now be enjoying justi-able acclaim for a carefully conceived, well-executed and popular project whose fundamental failing is only the exuberance with which it was embraced by its initial visitors.
Alan Tate, associate professor of landscape architecture, University of Manitoba, Canada
ASTRAGAL IN A MUDDLE OVER GEHRY DETRACTORS
I -nd myself wondering who supplied Astragal (AJ 05.04.07) with the conated version of no less than three of the objection speeches made at the planning committee meeting to determine Frank Gehry's King Alfred scheme. It is all attributed to me and given as proof of poor-quality objections. I have mused that perhaps it came from one of the drama students drafted in to pretend to be Karis supporters that day. One hears that they were given a party before arriving at Hove Town Hall for the meeting.
The speaker before me, Louise Stack, made a point about regeneration possibilities by drawing a comparison between the 1930s King Alfred building and Tate Modern's origins. I made no mention of either building in my own speech which followed.
However, I did indeed suggest that 'the cutting edge has moved on' from the likes of Frank Gehry. And it has. In my speech I suggested (horrors! ) that sometimes the cutting edge is about the kind of restylings that FAT does, rather than total demolition and a mega-squillions new build. And I did cite and show two examples of FAT's fabulous work.
I also gave a third example of what I consider to be cutting edge now: Will Alsop's Doodle - a new-build tower, proposed for City Road in London, covered in 'siphons' (designedin solar gain) and Bruce McLean artworks. This is the future.
Gehry uses expensive non-renewable materials and provides huge clodhopper carbon footprints. In Los Angeles his concert hall was heating up the environment so catastrophically that it had to be sanded down, and his Guggenheim Bilbao is rusting.
The King Alfred building faces the southern skies over an uninterrupted sea - an absolute gem of an opportunity to design a zero-carbon building, but this was never even considered.
Oh, and it was Tom Chavasse, a retired CEO of two roofing companies, who spoke about the potential problems with the Kalzip roof.
Valerie Paynter, Save Hove
GLOBAL WARMING IS AN ORTHODOXY, NOT A FACT
I imagine many people are as confused as I am after Channel 4's The Great Global Warming Swindle. Letters in the AJ by Professor David Strong (22.03.07) and Kate Macintosh (29.03.07) condemning the programme did nothing to clarify the issue.
Neither contained any science, except generalised claims, and accused programme maker Martin Durkin of communist sympathies. Are we really still worried about 'reds under the bed'?
The 'detailed analysis' in the Independent, referred to by Professor Strong, claims that the global cooling that occurred between 1940 and 1970 has been 'explained' by scientists as due to sulphur dioxide (SO 2) release that no longer happens. But others have said that, thanks to China, SO 2 levels are higher than ever.
No one seems to have answered the point that, if global warming is caused by greenhouse gases, then surely warming would be occurring in the stratosphere. No one has responded to the scientist in The Great Global Warming Swindle who was working in Alaska and said that icebergs drifting off the ice cap have always been a normal occurrence. No one has answered the point about uctuations in CO 2 due to human activity being insignificant compared to what can occur naturally. And, above all, no one has disputed the fact that ice-core data shows temperature change preceding CO 2 build-up, not the reverse.
Aside from these arguments, as a non-scientist I suggest that the following observations are incontrovertible:
we know that 80 per cent of greenhouse gases are produced by livestock as methane, and so we are wasting our time unless we address this particular problem;
the best guess is that fossil fuels, at present consumption, will be severely depleted in 50 years, thus we will all be 'green' eventually, whether we like it or not;
we live in what earth scientists call an interglacial period - the last ice sheet, which covered most of England, only retreated 10,000 years ago; and we live in an era easily gripped by orthodoxies - this is particularly true in academic and scientific fields, where speaking against the orthodoxy could be professional suicide.
Perhaps of overriding importance is the point made in The Great Global Warming Swindle that the application of the precautionary principle to climate change is causing untold misery in the developing world. Preventing people in Africa from exploiting their coal reserves and having modern power stations is condemning them to a life without electricity. We should applaud Martin Durkin for stressing how, in trying to avoid a bad outcome (which is not at all certain), we are creating one that definitely is.
Peter Kellow, Finistère, France Please address letters to: The Editor, The Architects'Journal, 151 Rosebery Avenue, London EC1R 4GB, fax 020 7505 6701, or email angela.
newton@emap. com to arrive by 10am on the Monday before publication.
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