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Neglect of urban space leads to mistakes


Kenneth Powell questions the connection between Modern Movement urbanism and the ideals of the Garden City planners (AJ 29.5.03).

Did Le Corbusier not refer to his vision of the city as the 'citéjardin verticale'? Powell may not like Modern Movement urbanism, but according to your profile of Oscar Niemeyer (21.5.03) it is 'newly fashionable'. If so, let us hope it leads to a rediscovery of urban space.Neglect of it leads to mistakes, as I believe it has at the Royal College of Art. However elegant Grimshaw's proposed extension may be, its impact on the space around it and on the RCA building, whose value Powell recognises, would be very damaging.

His contention that covered public spaces (shopping arcades? ) proposed for the Heron Tower and Rogers' Leadenhall Street tower are equivalent to the landscaped open spaces proposed by the Modern Movement does not wash with me.

As regards Norman Shaw's Albert Hall Mansions, this was precisely the precedent recognised by Cadbury Brown when he concentrated accommodation in the RCA's Darwin Block, setting up a symmetry about the Albert Hall that Grimshaw's block would destroy.

James Dunnett, co-chair, Docomomo UK

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