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Brunswick and the cosy yellow-brick road

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The Twentieth Century Society's new caseworker Emmanuelle Morgan's letter (AJ 28.9.00) unhelpfully forgets my relationship with her society. As reported by your news item (21.9.00) I willingly explained our proposals on Brunswick to a small group of the society's members, in the presence of the Camden planner responsible, in July 1999 at which no adverse comments were made. Indeed, the director Ken Powell told me on leaving that there would be no threat of listing from that source.

I was surprised therefore, two months later, to learn that the society had sought a listing from DCMS following a society committee meeting described to me by an insider as 'a brawl' - perhaps the reason why neither its president, whom I have known for 30 years, nor its founder, whom I have known for 10, nor even its director, who has referred to me as a friend, troubled to enlighten me at all.

Despite, not long ago, having lectured a society conference on the original design of the Brunswick and later on my former relationship with Leslie Martin, both times for free, I nevertheless found the content of the society's request to DCMS historically incorrect and not constituting a constructive reason for listing, the reason Morgan unwisely questions my use of the term 'embarrassing'.We expect better of a statutory authority.

Of course we will meet the society again (as she has already sought privately by letter), provided two matters are discussed first of all.

First would be that tricky question between historians and architects, where the former look backwards and the latter forwards, and next the society's open explanation of its committee's so-called brawl two summers ago. We might then come to a reasoned agreement about an unfinished building which needs forward-looking resolution, rather than the sad compromise Morgan seeks - none other than the cosy, offensive yellow-brick road fashionability that lurks behind the society's secrecy.

Patrick Hodgkinson, emeritus professor of architecture and urbanism, Bath University

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