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Trading traditionalism for Modernist pastiche


Keith Hill wishes to encourage 'innovative', 'ground-breaking' design through the new 'country house clause' (AJ 12.8.04).

In addition, according to RIBA Practice Bulletin No.

263 (5.8.04), 'what does come through in the minister's statement? is his intention that' the clause should not serve 'anything that gives off even a whiff of historical pastiche'. The clause is undoubtedly worded to exclude traditional buildings, being against 'historical pastiche'. But why should it not also be against Modernist pastiche?

Looking at the five schemes you illustrate in your article, I see Alison and Peter Smithson's 1950s style, Brutalist 1960s style, and Le Corbusier's 1930s style. On what basis can these buildings be called 'innovative' or 'ground-breaking'? Why should Modernist pastiche be favoured over historical pastiche?

The reality is that both Modernists and traditionalists borrow from the past. The difference is that whereas traditionalists see a virtue in this and use models that have a strong resonance in the culture at large, Modernist seek to deny any precedents and use models that only have value within the narrow world of the architectural profession.

Peter Kellow, Plymouth

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