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Forest Gate residents also deserve good design

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Isabel Allen was being diplomatic in stating that the design of the shopfront replacements at Forest Gate in east London were evocative of a row of National Trust trinket shops (AJ 15.5.03).

They are a lot worse than that.

Bad colours (the blue perhaps taken from the adjacent William Hill shop), an inappropriate use of materials, the worst sort of off-the-shelf shop fronts glued to the original marble columns with sealant, an ersatz attempt at period detail with mick 'panelled' side doors and an illiterate row of 'dentils', and a complete lack of horizontal or vertical modulation of the street elevation are only some of the basic design errors of this scheme.

The correspondents who protested at your editorial (at least one of whom is usually worth listening to) should accept that architectural journalism is a critical engagement with built and unbuilt architecture, with a view to improving the public and private realm for everyone, including the residents of Forest Gate.

They have a right to be happy with what has been achieved; that does not mean to say that a high standard would not have been appropriate.

Tim Gough, London SE17

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