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Failing to see the true picture in Dunbar

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Austin Williams' overview of this highly controversial project in Dunbar (pictured below) was simply breathtaking - in terms of his ignorance of the issues (AJ 15/22.8.02).

1. Loss of cultural/architectural heritage.

2. Dumbing down of the educational vision.

3. Complete dismissal of a huge US lobby which asked for the conservation of the building.

Williams misrepresents the whole debate as a spat between some local 'conservationists' and the developers, when in fact there were more than 450 formal objections from academics, architects, planners and educators from around the globe, mostly American.

The issues involved are profound and go to the heart of how we conserve our built heritage, but allow modern adaptation for educational/tourism purposes.

The opponents of this brutal scheme never argued for the simple conservation of the house.

The two rejected 'conservation' schemes by Benjamin Tindall Architects and Simpson & Brown both opted for redevelopment of all three existing floors of the building as gallery and educational space - but without destroying the essential character of the 1740s house.

The most fundamental objection to Richard Murphy's schema is that it reduces the available floor space and wall exhibition space in this tiny Scottish house by up to 30 per cent.

Lacking any true originality, Murphy's scheme is a derivative copy of the 1970s reconstruction of Benjamin Franklin's house in Washington, but lacking all the merits of that scheme. It was also roundly condemned by the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland; the Cockburn Association; the Wisconsin Historical Society; and the Sierra Club etc.

Graham White, via e-mail

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