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PASTICHE IS THE PRODUCT OF ANTIQUATED PLANNING

LETTERS

In his letter, 'Pastiche will not be accepted at King's Cross' (AJ letters, 14.09.06), David Partridge is missing the point. This is perhaps understandable, because Argent's approach has become so much the norm that no one is questioning the rather surreal principle that contemporary buildings should be erected on masterplans that ape those of the 19th (and earlier) centuries.

Indeed, Canary Wharf, Brindleyplace and even the much-vaunted Barcelona extensions are predicated on similar strategies.

What is needed is the realisation that while reverting to ancient plan layouts might prevent the nowheresville horrors of mid-20th-century planning, this approach is a dead end in the long run. While architecture has become more adventurous since the '80s, masterplanning remains stuck in an early postModernist phase of pastiche. A new, far more three-dimensionally responsive approach is needed to match the ambition of current architecture.

As well as the dull semi-grid plan, my particular beef with King's Cross is that it ignores the rich three-dimensional townscape possibilities of the site suggested by the multi-levels of existing canals, roads, railways, etc. Nineteenth-century infrastructure is so much more inspirational than 19th-century axial planning.

Piers Gough, by email

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