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Architecture Week prepares itself for events lift-off

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Some of the finest architects in Britain are raring to go for Architecture Week, but the festivities may uncover some uncomfortable truths about the profession - from freemasonry links to how architectural practices work.

Designing Our Future, from 5 to 14 November, has more than 300 events and includes Starchitect talks on design philosophies from Rick Mather, Daniel Libeskind and Nicholas Grimshaw. Other talks include one by Snezana Lawrence, an architect and director of the Canonbury Masonic Research Centre in London. The 8 November event looks at the founding of the architecture profession in the nineteenth century which has parallels with freemasonry.

Piers Gough and Erick Van Egeraat have now booked their tables for an online dinner party on the 11th of the month, hosted by Guardian writer Jonathan Glancey.

More architects are expected to take part in the electronic debate. Issues include what is the best building in the world? What is the greatest challenge facing architecture?

Building our future - is the only way up? Audiences can e-mail questions in advance to the website.

Offbeat features include The Great Egg Race on 13 November, when teams including architects will build egg-carrying structures. Also on that day, the Agon Shu Buddhist Centre opens its doors on the second floor of a West End 1960s speculative office block.AJ cartoonist and architect Louis Hellman and author, Barbara Weiss, will talk about how to refurbish your home (to be confirmed).

Love Architecture, the first ever national poll on architecture using electronic voting machines, challenges you to be as blunt as you like about modern architecture. People will go to the polls in places like Manchester's Tesco Metro and Tower Records at Piccadilly Circus.'At present there is very little information about public opinions of contemporary architecture other than anecdotal stories often used to reinforce traditional ideas, ' said a spokesman for the event.

Meanwhile Architecture Week for Schools takes place at Legoland in Windsor where famous European buildings have been recreated with 25 million Lego blocks. Children will be encouraged to sketch famous buildings.

Graham Haworth from Haworth Tompkins Architects, designer of the Royal Court Theatre refurbishment, will also work with children to design earthquake-proof towers. The Tall Towers Workshop, with Techniker engineer Matthew Wells, will test the children's finished models in an earthquake simulator.

More than 60 practices are helping demystify design by opening their doors. These include AustinSmith: Lord in Cardiff, D5 in Birmingham and Hunter & Partners in Chichester. Big names following suit in London include Foster and Partners, the Richard Rogers Partnership, Alsop & Stormer and engineer Whitby Bird & Partners.

Last week Arts Council chairman Gerry Robinson announced a £30,000 award for Architecture Week and £20,000 to help fund Love Architecture. Other awards included £50,000 to Glasgow 1999 to bring exhibits south of the border, and £22,000 for London Open House for a children's passport scheme to encourage visits to buildings.

The Architecture Week hotline is 020 7973 6436. The website is at www.archweek.co.uk

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