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Slapped face


Only in Britain could a major retrospective exhibition of a world-famous architect be opened to the news that his biggest London project is to be scrapped. But that is exactly what happened to Daniel Libeskind last week as his show opened at the Barbican. The scrapped scheme is, of course, the Spiral side entrance building for the V&A Museum. This scheme was needed partly to accommodate properly the RIBA Drawings Collection through increasing storage/display facilities, so no doubt some alternative will be sought. The refusal of funds from the National Lottery is a disgrace and scandal. There are still several billion pounds not spent, sitting making the Treasury money while worthwhile projects rot on the vine - this being one of them. Libeskind is philosophical, since he has too many other projects worldwide to spend much time mourning one in London. It is a rotten ending to a story that began with a competition and, gloriously, saw Kensington and Chelsea's planning committee ignoring the dreary advice of its planning officials and giving approval. They had not reckoned on an establishment that hates 'deconstruction', as it has proved with its equally disgraceful treatment of Zaha Hadid's Cardiff Bay opera house and Stefan Behnisch's Harbourside Centre in Bristol.

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