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Blobbed out

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Come to think of it, what is going on in the great world of architecture itself?

What has happened to the rules over the last 30 years? Are they demolished, changed or ignored? Does it matter? The Architectural Review has made a stand against 'blobs' in the shape of Future Systems' Selfridges building (though no signs, so far, of the same treatment being dished out to the Peter Cook/Colin Fournier blob in Graz).Where is the war on gesture going to take us? Is Frank Gehry to be condemned for daring to digitise his squishy bits? Will Foreign Office Architects be excoriated for the BBC Music Centre? Will Zaha Hadid ever find favour with the Scandinavians? At the recent Royal Society of Architects in Wales conference, Niels Torp's sideswipe at the Renzo Piano 'shard'was an indication that the 'alternative tradition' Modernists are now preared to stand up and be counted, cf David Mackay's support for the criticism of Selfridges in his letter to the AR.The latest object of attack in that magazine is Will Alsop's masterplanning concept for the inner area of Bradford, envisaged with its empty concrete buildings, products of the '60s and '70s, demolished and replaced by open space and a lake, transforming the town hall into a French château. Orthogonal it ain't, but for Astragal's money this is one of the best ideas the practice has proposed in recent years.

It changes the rules of engagement for regeneration projects. Perhaps the new architectural rules are about the primacy of ideas and imagination.

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