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CABE turns to press and TV to spread word on good design

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CABE has joined forces with The Mirror in its latest bid to take good design to a new and wider audience.

The two have teamed up for a competition that will run in Saturday editions of the newspaper during Architecture Week, from 21 to 30 June. The competition marks a dynamic departure in the commission's effort to spread the word on good architecture.

'It has always been our intention to take good design to a wider audience and you can't get wider than 3.9 million readers of Saturday's Mirror, ' said CABE chief executive Jon Rouse.

'We are trying to promote good design, especially for housing.'

Details of the competition are being finalised, but the first-prize winner will receive an architectdesigned kitchen. The commission aims to underscore this mass-market approach with an architecture slot on ITV's popular morning show, This Morning.

The slot is due to run for five days during Architecture Week, and is aimed 'to push the debate about design even further', said Rouse.

CABE is also in talks with Channel 4 about possible TV coverage.

The commission said the move was intended to swing emphasis away from housebuilders and professionals to homeowners and the man in the street.

Rouse has spoken of his desire to target parents and teachers, having previously hammered home his message to construction clients, builders and procurers. He is said to be keen on spreading the word to fresh listeners, rather than in 'preaching to the converted'.

However, Rouse's pleas for good architecture have fallen on deaf ears among one possible section of his new audience. Greater Manchester Police defended proposed designs for 17 new police stations under the Private Finance Initiative after CABE wrote to the chief constable calling the designs bland.

Rouse wrote to David Wilmot complaining that the buildings were not 'obviously police stations - at first sight, one or two could be mistaken for leisure centres'. Overall levels of design in no way measured up to civic aspirations, he added.

But Mike Hodge, Greater Manchester Police's principal architectural liaison officer, said the force was entirely pleased with the designs by Clifford Tee + Gale. The project is worth just over £80 million and design aesthetics was a major consideration, he insisted.

'The fact they don't look like police stations is probably a good thing, ' he said. 'That CABE letter was written by somebody who does not understand secure-building design. Privacy and security are important considerations and affect where you put glass areas.'

CABE said it was having a series of talks with the police. A spokeswoman said: 'The police thought the buildings were well designed and we are looking at that.We are going to have a series of meetings on what PFI is bringing to the process in terms of design.'

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