Polly Toynbee was working at the Independent when the design for Libeskind's Victoria and Albert extension was first published.The paper in general, and Toynbee in particular, was bowled over by the Spiral and devoted a whole front page to the plans. 'It was such a startling addition to a rather stuffy London street. All those tumbling boxes absolutely knocked my socks off.' Later she went to look at the models and loved it even more. 'It's so rude and bold and daring. It's great to see someone taking this kind of risk in the museum world.'
Toynbee admires architects who are prepared to run counter to current orthodoxies. She defends the much-scorned Marco Polo building (pictured) in Battersea, once home to the Observer newspaper, now inhabited by TV shopping giant QVC. 'A typical '80s building, it's the padded shoulders and backcombed hair of architecture, 'she laughs. 'It's significant that it was designed by a builder, not an architect; I love the fact that he was pursuing his dream regardless. It's something fun in a rather drab part of London.'
A third choice is the Art Nouveau Michelin Building on London's Fulham Road. 'I lived near it as a child when it was a garage and I loved its dusty, dirty turrets and ornate gates.
Although it's good to see buildings saved, in a way I preferred it before it became the Conran restaurant. If there's a theme to my choices it's people who are prepared to stick their neck out when so much design is compromised and bland. The spirit of Gaudi if you like.'