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astragal

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astragal

Kennel Capers by 'Mayo'

Diana Yakeley of Islington won last week's champagne, correctly identifying the bulldog occupying Powell & Moya's Churchill Gardens estate in Pimlico. This week's clue: Suitable for a browser, sounds like. Answers by Monday am on a postcard (preferably doggy) to AJ Astragal, 151 Rosebery Avenue, London EC1R 4GB, or in emergency fax 0171 505 6701.

Class of 63

The Cambridge class of '63 met for one of its triennial reunions last weekend. Sandy Wilson, its one-time third-year master, gave a tour behind the scenes of his British Library before the group of 40 contemporaries and spouses sat down for a specially catered lunch in the staff dining room. Sandy was on form with his customary humour - 'I'm in my anecdotage now' - with Mrs Wilson, aka M J Long, providing the more serious explanations. Class member Bernard Hunt congratulated Robin Nicholson on his commission to design the school in Hunt Thompson's Millennium Village: 'We learned this from the aj, the client not having mentioned to us that we weren't to do it!' Other alumni present included organiser Roger Stonehouse, now professor at Manchester; Nicholas Lacey; Richard, Duke of Gloucester; Foster director Spencer De Grey and aj planning columnist Brian Waters. Waters reminded Wilson of his quip on landing the library job with Leslie Martin all those years ago: 'This should keep one in Astons Martin for life'. That's pluralism.

Live and let die

Poor Roger Scruton, so often torn to pieces by the baying hounds of illberalism. But help comes unexpectedly from the Gauchiste camp, when aa general studies head Mark Cousins suggests that fox-hunting is central to that part of Modernism which aestheticises the experience of death. Think Picasso and Hemingway on bull fighting, or Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, for example. It is, claims Cousins, the nineteenth-century bourgeois mentality which sentimentalised death and dumb animals to a point where we have become too squeamish to face fundamental philosophical questions. Unlike radical Modernism and Roger Scruton's hunting pals.

Stretching a definition

One is all in favour of broad definitions of architecture, as must be the eagle-eyed organisers of National Architecture Week. Despite having 300 or so events to include in their listings, they managed to spot and excise one that went just a little too far. The culprit? A craft fair in King's Lynn, the organisers of which wanted to be listed on the grounds that it includes the work of a potter, who 'once had a pot in an architect's house'.

A tale of two Colemans

So it's official. There really are two Richard Colemans. One is the deputy registrar of that ever-more impressive 'watchdog of the profession', the arb; the other, of course, the urbane former deputy secretary of the rfac, now working as an independent consultant. The latter is busy with important matters like redrafting ppg 15 (the document planners consult over new buildings in conservation areas) for planning minister Richard Caborn. Power to his elbow.

What happened?

I seem to remember a Labour front-bench spokesperson, when in opposition, proclaiming that several things could be done within months of taking office, which would immediately improve conditions for architecture. One was to appoint an architect-supremo, who would cut across departmental barriers, with a remit to ensure design quality in all government commissioning, and advice on including design standards in all legislation. A year and a half later, with reform of the Arts Council and its architecture unit, and of the rfac on the agenda, whatever has happened to this eminently sensible promise? Gone the way of pr and its champion Mark Fisher, I think.

A word from their sponsor

Who should I spy being whisked around London in chauffeur-driven style one early evening? None other than one of architecture's glamorous couples, ahmm partner Paul Monaghan and riba Architecture Centre supremo Alicia Pivaro. Over dinner at the Bluebird, host Ford Motors introduces them to the mysteries of the Orion car which they are going to drive for promotional purposes for the next three months. I hope they restrain themselves from the temptation to which Tara Palmer-Tompkinson succumbed when enjoying a similar deal with Honda.

Just deserts

Architecture critic Hugh Pearman revealed his desert island buildings in conversation with aj editor Paul Finch this week. An eclectic mix, but only one, Durham Cathedral, dates from before 1900; and functionally safe, while only one, Number 1 Poultry, has its purpose changed- to a seat of government. With his eclectic choice Hugh wants to create an 'ideal city' of different types, forms and styles. So is it all inspired by Colin Rowe? 'Good God, no,' he shrieks.

Thoroughly modern

Organisations with similar aims can often have widely differing outlooks, so it is gratifying to hear of the congruence of approach of two experts in the preservation of modern architecture. The Twentieth Century Society's Alan Powers and docomomo stalwart John Allan carried off joint first-prize at the fancy-dress party of the recent docomomo conference. Both went as Penguin Pools.

Broadcast information

Just who will emerge victorious in the battle to redesign Bush House for the bbc? After the fiasco surrounding Broadcasting House, and the Outer Darkness of centralisation at Shepherds Bush, good architecture and a good location are sorely needed. Names in the architectural frame include, I hear, Will Alsop and Sir Norman Foster.

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