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a life in architecture

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amanda levete

For Amanda Levete of Future Systems, the great building is one that moves you. For her, a night spent at the monastery of La Tourette, designed by Le Corbusier, was one of the most moving architectural experiences of her life. Apart from the dignity and silence of the monks themselves, it was the small cell that impressed her most, 'so calm and so serene that its size was not important. Its bareness and everything about it was effortless'. Even the basin, though not special, had been chosen by someone with a perfect eye. 'It was so easy, so relaxed, so natural.'

On the same trip, Levete travelled to Ronchamp, which reduced her to tears, and again showed that 'effortlessness . . . there was no angst about the detailing'. Ronchamp is the greater building architecturally, she thinks, but La Tourette brought a different sense of understanding. Levete believes there is a universal quality about truly great buildings which communicates itself to everyone - the Pantheon, the Guggenheim - and that if you asked the population at large what buildings had most moved them, they would probably all come up with the same handful of names, of 'the untainted, uncompromised buildings that communicate straight to the heart. They are hard to define but you recognise them when you see them'.

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