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a life in architecture tomdixon

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Tom Dixon, head of design at Habitat and recently awarded an OBE, brushes off the accolade. He wonders whether the 'establishment' actually exists and, if it does, whether he can get away with more radical gestures now he has the royal seal of approval.

So what is this supposedly radical man's taste in architecture?

Brimming with suggestions, Dixon hones his choice down to three buildings. First is Nicholas Grimshaw's Eden project in Cornwall (above). 'It has turned one of the scars of the earth into something positive, ' says Dixon.

'It is more than just architecture and more than just gardening.'

With a strong affiliation to India, Dixon selects two very different buildings from the country. After a recent trip to Ahmedabad in Gujerat, he was lucky enough to stay in Le Corbusier's Villa Sarabhai, where the family who commissioned the building still live. The children were involved in the commissioning process and asked for a chute that would run directly from the bedroom to the swimming pool.

Dixon rounds off his list with the City Palace built for the Maharaja Jai Singh II in Jaipur - virtually untouched since it was built in 1728. What fascinates Dixon is the precision of the astronomical technology built into the observatory. Sundials the size of billiard rooms with markings every 5mm produce a building of infinite engineering skill, with a mystical sense of spiritualism.

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