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Purpose is the norm, not necessarily a need


The report of the AJ conference on cost efficiency was fascinating reading; we must surely all take to heart the words of John Worthington and Paul Morell.

But isn't all this talk about establishing need, etc, missing the point? A very small proportion of buildings owe their genesis to a genuinely identified need; a larger number are commissioned in the hope of making money, but almost as many are commissioned out of vanity, personal or corporate - though they may fulfil a genuine purpose. I would cite the '60s public housing progamme, the Millennium Dome, the Scottish Parliament, and the whole Olympic project as examples, as well as, at a different scale, many of the domestic conversions we see in the AJ. Questions like 'do we need this building at all' or 'must it be clad in titanium or floored in pentellic marble' have no place in these circumstances.

Mission creep à la Scots Parliament is the norm for such projects as well as the ensuing recriminations.

Alan Kennedy, London SW12

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