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A life in architecture - Peter Conradi

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Writer Peter Conradi started to notice architecture when he went up to the University of East Anglia in 1964 and was exposed to the vernacular architecture of Norwich on the one hand, and the Brutalism of Lasdun's campus on the other. 'I lived in the Ziggurat which I thought was the worst designed building I'd ever been in.There were no external windows on the corridors which meant that it was dark during daylight - infuriating.

The walkways are another disaster because there's nothing between you and the Urals.' That said, he admires Lasdun's National Theatre:

'It's democratic, with no grand entrance.'

Conradi lived in Krakow for two years - 'a city which got forgotten, its beauty is the beauty of neglect'.

He has also lived in America ('the United States of Amnesia') and deplores the way buildings there are constantly replaced, 'as if the past is dispensable'. Chicago is the exception: 'It's a museum of fabulous early Modernist buildings, a must for every architect.'

Conradi spends part of the year in Cascob, mid-Wales, where he has shared ownership of a beautifully proportioned 1857 school house. Novelist Iris Murdoch, the subject of his recent acclaimed biography, was a frequent visitor. Conradi finds the area astonishingly beautiful and takes particular pleasure in the limestone landscape, 'those hills without tops to them', and some of the tiny local churches, such as Patrishow (pictured) and Rhulen, which have spectacular carved rood screens.

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