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Dire architecture not confined to rural sites

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Letters

Gordon Davies' comments that the Scottish landscape is increasingly degenerated by 'really poor tin shed' retail parks (AJ 11.10.01), underplays the true extent of the direness of current Scottish architecture, in the capital at least. If only the lack of quality was confined to out-of-town wastelands!

The decision to turn over vast tracks of precious city-centre land to the largest budget-property developers is resulting in shamefully low-quality residential schemes, realised in the nastiest split-face cast stone, which are disfiguring whole areas of the city. Even the environs of the new parliament, in the very heart of the capital, are suffering.

Wonderful opportunities for large-scale regeneration, such as in the Leith area - which could so easily be masterplanned, detailed and landscaped by the large numbers of talented designers in Scotland (one thinks of Amsterdam's harbour or Rotterdam's Kop van Zuid) - have instead been presented, piecemeal, to the budget-bullies and their talentless architect-buddies. With the overwhelming forces of the market economy, the architect's only ally can be the planner, who alone has the power to force housebuilders to up the quality of their designs and materials.

Unfortunately, they seem to quibble over minor details of quality projects, while schemes which are entirely vile in all their details, sail through.

I am lucky in that, being a non-Scottish long-time Edinburgh resident, I can always leave, but barring the 'escape' option, something must be done.

I fear an architecture policy and good intention may fall short of what is urgently required.

Simon Brims, Edinburgh EH7

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