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Urban hymns

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astragal in barcelona

To Barcelona for the British Council for Offices' 12th Annual Conference, where some 550 assorted architects, developers and consultants have gathered to discuss the problem of 'Urban Survival'. The delegates' first survival test was to navigate the complex plan of the Hotel Arts, the conference venue and swansong of SOM capo di capo Bruce Graham.

The keynote speech by Professor Laurie Taylor was a virtuoso performance in fast talking. Among the serious commentary on the sociology of the workplace - 'reduce office gossip by 50 per cent and productivity drops by 20 per cent' - was a stream of throwaway jokes. 'A cynic is a person who smells flowers and looks around for the coffin', and the one about 'the Jewish mothers'dinner where the waiter goes round and asks, 'Is anything all right?''Despite an optimistic view among some speakers in the session on 'Sustainability - can it last?' with regard to corporate social responsibility, Paul Burgess of British Land told delegates that of the 30 major companies who looked at occupying the company's new Plantation Place development, only one showed any interest in its extensive sustainability credentials.

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