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a life in architecture peter tatchell

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With his tireless energy and ferocious intelligence, Peter Tatchell has never shrunk from controversy when fighting for human rights, but his views on architecture are hardly less provocative.

'I loathe modern British housing.Trapped in the past, it's nearly all vulgar, cheap pastiche.

There seems to be a fear of experimentation and innovation in both form and materials.Used in the right way, brick can be fantastic, but do we have to suffer every house in Britain being made out of it? What about exciting modern materials like concrete, steel and glass?'

Tatchell originally wanted to be an architect, but his parents could not afford to send him to university, so he worked instead in design and display at the largest department store in his home city of Melbourne.

'As a kid I used to go to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl every summer to attend free symphony and ballet concerts, ' he says. 'Built in the 1950s, this huge open-air amphitheatre is covered with steel sheeting bolted together, suspended from two giant pylons, and anchored by steel cables to form a giant canopy. I was always fascinated by the beauty of its sky-reaching sweep and by the engineering genius of its construction.'

Today, Tatchell cites his favourite building as Utzon's 'exquisite and original'Sydney Opera House. 'It's a unique, exhilarating building, exuding imagination and confidence, 'he says.

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