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Simon Jenkins blasts 'devil' architects, but Prasad has the last word…

Architects were blamed for most of the evil in the world by a ranting Simon Jenkins at the Royal Town Planning Institute annual lecture last night (20 February).

The cultural commentator, Guardian journalist and former deputy chairman of English Heritage smattered his speech with swipes at ‘stupid planning’ and bolstered his calls for a more robust system with a series of assaults on architects.

In his speech at the UCL's School of Oriental and African studies, Jenkins said: ‘The reason ‘planning’ failed in the '60s, '70s and '80s was that your profession [the planners] was not powerful enough and it was also on the side of the devil – the architects – who shouldn’t be trusted with anything.

‘Architecture is the only profession I know which will work for any dictator anywhere in the world, including China.’

He went on: ‘Your job [as planners] is to stop them building things which reflect their own glory when we want buildings in context. More London [on the South Bank near the Tower of London], is a series of glass boxes, designed by Norman Foster, that are so hostile to pedestrians that nobody would want to go there.

He then brought up the issue of ‘icons’ and architects and politicians alleged fixation with them.

‘[Today’s buildings] are objects in space and are almost nothing about the street. Foster claims his buildings are about people – they are not. Richard Rogers claims his buildings are about context – they are not,’ he said.

‘I’ve just seen the plans by Urban Splash in Liverpool – a huge slab in front of the cathedral. Can we not do better than that?’ he added.

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