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a life in architecture iain sinclair

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Surprise and mystery govern writer Iain Sinclair's choice of 'buildings': a bridge, a closeddown service station and a ruin.

The Friends Bridge, over the River Lea on Hackney Marshes, east London, was designed by Whitby, Bird and Partners. 'You're travelling in a northerly direction up the River Lea along one of those fields with multiple football pitches on it, and suddenly at the corner of it is this rather beautiful red steel bridge, amazingly solid, unlike another millennium bridge.'

Where before there was a closed gate, the bridge has opened up a whole network of paths and roads that wander off secretly across the marshes. 'It's beautiful and functional, and above all surprising and simple, a place with huge skies and islands and wavering marsh fields behind it.'

The redundant Aust Service Station, another structure which takes him by surprise, is an elegant functional 1960s building commanding a magnificent view across the River Severn - 'a mysterious backwater at the moment'. To Sinclair it looks like 'something out of Hitchcock's North by Northwest '.

His third choice is a ruined villa built by the writer Walter Savage Landor, near Llanthony Priory in Wales. Landor bought the land in 1811 but the enterprise turned out disastrously and his villa is now a beautiful ruin. 'As you walk up the hill you can find it in among an avenue of cedars of Lebanon he planted which look right down towards the priory.' The place haunts Sinclair, who is currently completing his next novel. It is called Landor's Tower .

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