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'Makeshift' housing is a hit with residents


Thank you for your piece on Duncan Lewis, of whose work I was previously unaware (AJ 14.4.05). In your editorial you bemoan a British inability to appreciate transience and bricolage. Actually, I think this is a habit of thought not so much entrenched in the public mind as in the psyche of architects themselves, particularly those of the high-tech, fetishise-the-detail school.

Our Peabody housing (see above) aimed to take a fresh look at what the image of a house might be using everyday materials - profiled plastic, chainlink, etc - in a seemingly artless way. The occupants love it and so did the Guardian, which called it 'the most imaginative and thoughtfully planned low-cost housing in London'.

In contrast, the professional press, in the form of a rival journal, dubbed it 'makeshift', 'odd' and 'interesting, not beautiful'.

In this practice we have long admired the work of Lacaton & Vassal for its ostensible nonchalance and humour. Now we'll watch out for Duncan Lewis, too.

Could it catch on here? I doubt it: there's a whole French culture behind it, which is why Parisian bollards are half the size and twice as beautiful as London's, and why they don't put barn roofs and clock turrets on their supermarkets.

Robert Sakula, Ash Sakula Architects

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