RENOVATION MUST HAVE A CONTEMPORARY PURPOSE
I am honoured that my letter (AJ 15.09.05) has generated two direct responses and an indirect one.
There is a difference between respecting a building as a historical artefact and building in a historical style when the intellectual foundations for that style have been eroded. I would not disagree that a particular medieval cathedral should be conserved as a good example of its time. Nor am I denying that conservation should be informed by an understanding of the construction of the period. But to develop a Gothic cathedral and spend £3 million when 95 per cent of the population does not go to church, except for births, marriages and deaths, and when parish churches are left derelict or converted to cafés and arts centres, is an anachronism. The question is not how should St Edmundsbury be extended but should it be extended at all if three worshippers, some tourists and a handful of architectural geeks are the only congregation?
Indeed, it would be an anachronism to build new office blocks if home working becomes a major employment pattern;
or shopping centres if they become an outmoded retail pattern.
I used the word 'unfortunate' to describe the erosion of Christian philosophy because a lot of imperial aggression has been committed in the name of a historical faith.
Ian Robertson, via email