Jim Eyre: No Modernist conspiracy in architecture
Design Council CABE trustee and Wilkinson Eyre director Jim Eyre has hit out at claims there is a Modernist conspiracy in the design review process
Writing in today’s Guardian (5 August), Eyre (pictured) said it would be ‘extraordinarily counterproductive’ if the Traditional Architecture Group’s (TAG) request for councils to ignore design review advice was implemented.
Last week, TAG wrote to culture secretary Jeremy Hunt last week demanding Design Council CABE chair Paul Finch apologise for comments he made in this magazine celebrating the selection of Modernist architects to design London 2012 Olympic buildings (AJ 14.07.10). TAG also asked communities secretary Eric Pickles to instruct local authorities to ignore design review advice ‘on the grounds of clear and unacceptable bias’.
Eyre insisted there was no ‘conspiracy-peddling modernist dogma’ and that there should be no fears that traditionalist architects would be treated unfairly by Design Council CABE.
He added: ‘What we all want is better-quality architecture, and the focus of Finch’s article decries the problems brought on by a clumsy procurement process, making good architecture – of whatever style – a rarity.’
This week Finch said he was ‘disappointed’ that TAG failed to acknowledge ‘you leave your stylistic preferences at the door’ when undertaking design review.
In a letter addressed to TAG chair Alireza Sagharchi, Design Council chair Martin Temple said design review panellists acted ‘independently’ and the body advocated no ‘single style or aesthetic.’
Temple said that comments made by Finch did not represent the official views of the government sponsored design watchdog.
In a written response to Temple’s letter, Sagharchi said his organisation experienced a ‘distinct lack of correlation between aspiration of policy and the stylistic prejudices in the makeup of the Panels that implement it’.
He added: ‘Finch’s views on Architecture cannot be deemed to be private whilst he is the Deputy Chair and has access to a public forum such as the Architects Journal, particularly when major and nationally significant projects, such as the Olympics, with large architectural commissions are concerned.’