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Berlin games

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Times are tough for Michael Wilford, despite having seen two major buildings open in recent weeks: the Lowry in Salford, and last week the Berlin embassy. Moronic comments about the design may have taken some of the shine off the royal opening, with Die Welt winning the tasteless stakes by suggesting that the building looks as though 'a bomb had smashed it', recalling Mark Twain's dictum that: 'A German joke is no laughing matter.' Apparently the first embassy opening by a monarch since 1905, the event was not all sweetness and light, with Prince Philip declining to make any comment on the design but asking M W if he had been paid. The prince allegedly said privately that he thought parts of the building 'a vast waste of space' - which probably reminds him of several of his homes. A bizarre touch was the playing of the Luftwaffe March, from the 1970 film Battle of Britain, during the opening ceremony. Much more disturbing, however, is the cutback in the Wilford office to a handful of key staff, partly because of the ongoing funding problem for the practice's heroic Bilbao interchange scheme. Let's hope it happens sooner rather than later.

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