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a life in architecture george melly

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Jazz singer, art connoisseur, author, fisherman - George Melly is an all-round showman who has very clear views on architecture.

He remembers an afternoon spent in Mackintosh's Glasgow School of Art (pictured) 'going all over it with the director and exchanging many bawdy recollections'. Melly says: 'I love the way that Mackintosh finds a balance between Art Nouveau and the austerity of Japan.'

Melly's second choice is the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona by Antoni Gaudí. 'I love Gaudí, who seems to me to have been totally out of control, and anyway had the Dadaistic misfortune to be run over by a tram, 'says Melly.

The building was begun in 1882, but when Gaudí took over the following year he completely altered the original design in favour of his own ideas. 'The traditional Gothic scheme is a dead system, 'said Gaudí.'It might be compared to a human being whose skeleton is crushed by the weight of flesh that it has to support, and needs crutches in every direction.'

But progress on the cathedral was slow, and it was far from finished when, on 7 June 1926, the tram intervened. Since then there have been attempts to complete it, but which many - Melly among them - think misguided.

Architectural dislikes? Melly comments: 'Any old 1960s tower block, preferably neglected and scrawled with graffiti and full of smack dealers.'

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