'PASTICHE' WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED AT KING'S CROSS
Far from being embarrassed by the results of your wonderful charette, as Piers Gough suggests (AJ letters 31.08.06), Argent came away very excited by two things. Firstly, we were hugely impressed by the rich seam of architectural talent in the UK, which we are looking forward to mining at King's Cross.
Secondly, we were extremely heartened by just how successful the masterplan framework has proven to be, through being exible enough to present opportunities for that talent to ower in so many interesting ways and at the same time being robust enough to hold out the prospect of producing a piece of human city rather than an architectural freak show. There will be nothing 'pastiche' about King's Cross.
David Partridge, Argent
DESIGNERS NEED TO GET BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
I was waiting to see if there would be any feedback on the Designs on King's Cross article (AJ 03.08.06) from fellow AJ readers.
I was intrigued by the manifest lack of sketching and drawing skills shown by virtually all participants in the exercise.
As a profession we seem to have lost the one skill that sets us apart from the other building professions and, more tragically, that ability to visually put together an idea before a client's very eyes.
I tell my students that there is nothing that impresses a client more than an architect expressing his ideas through quick and clear sketches. Architects: Draw!
Mário Sua Kay, Lisbon
FIGURING OUT THE ARB'S RELAXED WAY OF WORKING
The statistics in this year's ARB annual report drew my attention.
This year enquiries and complaints rose from 506 in 2005 to 810 - an incredible 60 per cent rise - but no explanation is given for this.
A breakdown of how many complaints were upheld is not given. At £2.5 million running cost a year every enquiry cost over £3,000 to resolve, and with 18 staff, even the 60 per cent rise equates to less than one enquiry per staff member per week.
Any architects looking for a more relaxed career change?
Patrick Hogan, Beaconsfield
MISPLACED IDEOLOGIES IN NOTTINGHAM REVIEW
In his response to my review of Nottingham Transformed (AJ letters 07.09.06), Adrian Jones says I am advocating 'more grand planning' and that he finds this 'quaintly ideological', as indeed it would be, had I proposed it. He concludes with a remark that appears to cast aspersions on my professionalism ('Muirhead's assessment is clearly not based on any appreciation of how regeneration actually works').
To your readers may I once again recommend Powell's book as an exemplary study of the architecture and urban history of a city whose urban predicament is in many ways emblematic.
Thomas Muirhead, London WC1
WOOD CAN ONLY DO GOOD IN HIS NEW US ROLE
Being an ex-student from the University of Nottingham, I have first-hand experience of the characteristics of tall buildings expert Antony Wood (AJ 31.08.06).
Coming from a lower-class area of Manchester, he has reached the top of his profession through self-disciplined focus, utter hard work and a no-nonsense approach with a hint of humour.
His enthusiasm for architecture is infectious and has the ability to keep even the most hungover of students engrossed in his lectures.
He oozes confidence.
Even though I have chosen the building services route rather than architecture, Antony remains by far the most impressive of my lecturers. He is an obvious breath of fresh air to the architectural world. I wish him every success in the States and I'm sure he will stir it up. Good luck!
Jonathon Fowler, MEng (Hons), University of Nottingham
WHAT IS THE MEANING BEHIND BUILDING TALL?
There is no doubt tall buildings are compelling; however, I think the AJ should have titled its issue 'Very Tall Buildings in Central London', as this is all that was really discussed (AJ 31.08.06).
From Stonehenge to churches to university spires to power stations - tall buildings have been expressions of the public, religious and civil life. There is no doubt that this has changed, London's tall buildings are no longer about our public and civic life - does it matter that their meaning has changed?
I would welcome a theoretical debate in future AJ editions.
Trenton Oldfield, London E1
HAS ZAHA DRIVEN DOWN THE WRONG CAREER ROAD?
Has Zaha Hadid shown that, like the rest of us, she is prone to drop the ball from time to time?
I am not questioning the quality of her architecture, but an unusual foray into motor design. She has created a concept car, for London art dealer Kenny Schachter, called the Z.Car which, bizarrely for a car, lacks movement - a salient part of her building design. Instead of owing it seems to squat, but nevertheless it has been exhibited at the British International Motor Show 2006 and is currently in residence at the Guggenheim in New York.
This is a disappointment from the usual heights of her projects - including the recent Z. Island Kitchen - yet there are hopes to make this into a functional prototype by spring 2007.
Although the car does have innovative features - hydrogen power, drive by wire and a moving chassis - none are ground-breaking. Zaha, don't give up the day job.
Hugh McEwen, by email
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