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'We are fond of using the expression 'not knowing your arse from your elbow' in our office. It seems Meadowcroft Griffin cannot be accused of this. The Tolladine Centre (AJ 02.11.06) is the most butt-ugly, depressing building I have seen for a long time - although the AJ has covered quite a few candidates in recent weeks in its championing of 'Emperor's New Clothes Architecture'.

I thought the AJ had plumbed new depths of banality when featuring interior details of NORD's timber-merchant office extension (AJ 19.10.06), such as an OSB board shelf on spur shelving brackets, but the Tolladine Centre has raised the bar.

I particularly liked the revolutionary idea that 'sloping surfaces were conceived of as a pinball machine, ensuring footballs landing on them would roll back on to the street' - also known as a pitched roof. Presumably this was to help the kids whack footballs at the building when they ran out of air-rifle pellets.

Finally, to pick up on your editorial, since when has 'a makeshift quality' ever been appropriate to community buildings - why can't they just be beautiful and well designed?

I have the suspicion the AJ is testing us with ever more ludicrous schemes to see if we dare tell the emperor he's naked.

Well I for one am prepared to stand up. AJ, you're 'avin a larf!

Steve Banks, Groundworks Architects

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