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Noughty, noughty, very naughty


Future Systems' Selfridges recalls to me that it was the turncoat radical Edmund Burke, inventor of 19th-century Neo-Conservatism, who proposed, in his essay 'On Beauty', that humans were attracted to rounded, shiny things.

His explanation was that it recalled to the mind the firm, rounded, shiny flesh of babies and adolescents. This triggered the reactions of what we would call, today, the 'selfish gene' - in short, the maternal and the erotic instincts. So much for beauty.

While this may, indeed, be true, it is possible that the fashion for rounded, shiny buildings may also have an historic explanation.Why do we not associate the 'noughties', as one may as well christen the years 20002009, with the icon of the embryo, or egg?

If, today, one adds to this the exhibition at the V&A of animal architecture, and the new release of a digitially remastered director's cut of the film Alien, it seems altogether plausible that the shiny blobs that are the gift of the noughties to architectural posterity will be looked back upon from the vantage of the placental veil thrown over the horrors that are yet to burst upon us.

Has anyone invented a way of conducting a pre-natal scan on what lies inside the architectural Ms Blobby? Mr Libeskind has had a go at breaking his egg up in Salford and found nothing but jagged shards of shell. This was disappointing but, perhaps, not entirely surprising, given its stud-book.

John Outram, via email

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