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Three of a kind

astragal

A fabulous crop of cards in answer to last week's quiz. Best of the bunch was from Stephen Wolstenholme, of Oxford, who correctly identified the Johnson Wax Building by Frank Lloyd Wright; Dr Johnson; and the Hillingdon Council hq by Robert Matthew Johnson Marshall. Entries for this week's puzzler should reach us be Monday am. Send a postcard (the more surreal the better), to AJ Astragal, 151 Rosebery Avenue, London EC1R 4GB. In emergency fax 0171 505 6701.

Alienated design

Conspiracy theorists and X Files nuts will know about the so-called Roswell Incident of 1947, in which aliens are said to have landed in New Mexico, to be captured by the us government and then kept in captivity for scientific experimentation. The town is now the focus for ufo-interested tourists, and has been making a handsome living out of it. Now an architectural competition for new housing tries to examine the phenomenon - by referring to the idea of what it means to be a foreigner, outsider or stranger in a strange town. And of course what it means to be an architect downloading ideas to a (receptive?) audience. The procedures are unusual: entrants have to take a position as an advocate (pro-alien) or critic (pro-human) within the context of the competition. It is not anonymous; jurors may find out all sorts of things about you. Renderings and models will be important unless entrants can teach the jurors how to read plans and sections, says the competition blurb from the 'Court of Architecture' in Roswell (appellate judge Arthur Erickson - nice touch). Prizes range between $£5,000 and $25,000. How can you resist? More info from http://frank. org, or clerk@frank.org

Contracted out

Surely he was joking? That was the question on the minds of architects attending the London Region Awards in the Toynbee Hall in London's East End last week. Marco Goldschmied was dishing out the awards to the great and the good, and if there was any embarrassment about house designs for millionaires and sports clubs for yuppies being rewarded in one of the capital's poorest boroughs, it didn't show. Marco's finest moment, however, came when giving an award to a school project with three designers - Hampshire County Architects, Perkins & Ogden, and Hawkins Brown. Inviting Russell Brown to receive an award, the riba presidential candidate said: 'They must be the contractor'. Ooops! Russell has been sitting next to Marco in the riba council chamber for the last 18 months!

On the ball

News from Portland Place - amiable public affairs chief Chris Palmer is to quit his role in order to pursue one of his great loves, football. He is leaving after a long spell at Portland Place, first as press officer and latterly as Alex Reid's right hand man, to join the company redeveloping Wembley Stadium as communications director. Expect plenty of encomiums to Sir Norman, and hok Lobb, the sport architect, who are combining to get rid of the gruesome twin towers as part of the redevelopment scheme. I hope Palmer remembered to tell his new employer that his main football passion remains . . . Glasgow Rangers.

Retail heaven

We shop, therefore we are, or so Post-Structuralists would have us believe. Nowhere more so than in Bluewater, the giant retail centre in Kent which will open in March. Incredibly, more than 1 per cent of the shopping in the uk will be carried out there. Developer Lend Lease has identified its catchment area as having a retail spend potential of £5.5 billion pa, about 10 per cent of the uk total. It hopes to capture £650 million of that each year, thanks to ingenious devices such as branding large malls as Guildhall. You just can't beat that heritage stuff.

Life's a beach

Look out for the Baja (pronounced Baa Ha) Beach Club - a new concept in 'rocking' nightclubs by Greenalls Pubs and NightClubs. Interior designer Gareth Humphreys from Harrison Design tells me that the idea is 'informality, impromptu' with the buildings designed 'almost as if people have lashed it up already'. By this he means bamboo cladding, sun-bleached timber, three bars on each floor and huge bath tubs filled with ice and bottled beers, dispensed by bikini-clad girls and swimming-trunked chaps. The first Baja Beach Bar is located where they obviously need one - in Gateshead.

Ancient seat

Country Life has been busy putting its weekly frontispiece girls in pearls on the net. The first to make such an appearance rejoices in the name Tracey Scuggins (only joking, she's really Davina Duckworth-Chad), who I note is sitting on what the magazine probably imagines is an eminently Modern chair. In fact it was designed by Marcel Breuer in the 1920s.

Weighty considerations

The latest tome from Monacelli Press, the complete works of Frank Gehry, is another epic in the weight department. Hugh Pearman's Contemporary Architecture was last year's blockbuster, weighing a bicep-stretching 3.4 kilos. Frank's oeuvre comes in at 3.1 kilos, but then it is devoted to just the one architect.

Sense of history

Enquiries to the City of London Corporation about millennium plans are greeted with: 'Which Millennium?' But then, how many organisations were around at the last one?

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