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Swedish spirit

astragal

The Swedish government has dipped its toe in the water toward creating an equivalent of CABE, with the formation of a National Advisory Board of Architecture. So far funding has been on the low side, but this might change, judging by the enthusiasm which the country's new environment and planning minister, Mona Sahlin, expressed in Stockholm last week. She was speaking at the annual conference of the Swedish Association of Architects, held in the western suburb of Tensa. (AJ editorial director Paul Finch was on hand to describe how CABE operates its programmes, though he didn't go into detail over the organisation's recent local difficulties. ) Another Brit speaker was Adam Caruso, who was also present to receive a prize for Caruso St John's redesign of the town square in Stortorget, for the Kalmar municipal authority.

In his speech he criticised 'brand recognition' architecture deriving from unusual plans and sections, and described the subsequent shapes as a design equivalent of cosmetic surgery: 'not-new' but incapable of growing old gracefully. 'Major players are egging each other on, ' he declared. 'Never has so much construction been based on so few ideas.' He showed examples of Caruso St John's own work, including an intriguing middleof-block house which required 22 party wall agreements, and an office proposal for King's Cross which accentuated the 1.5m grid in a homage to Sullivan and Berlage. 'We are concentrating on what it is supposed to be . . .

it's more powerful than looking like a spaceship, usually a 1950s spaceship which is all about nostalgia.' Astringent.

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