What a dreadful lecture by Ken Frampton at the RIBA last Thursday, 'The Catalytic City:
Between Strategy and Intervention'.
The first quarter of an hour was spent analysing the reasons for the title and subtitle of the talk. His descriptions of megastructures striding across the 'chaos' of historic towns focused solely on their morphological, physical and geometric characteristics and not at all on their social or planning implications. I was with an Italian friend who was shocked that the awful human disasters of the Gregotti schemes, that Frampton displayed, were completely ignored by him. The talk was a catalogue of these ancient schemes - although one current reworking of submarine pens looked interesting and new landscaping strategies, for example by West 8, were beautiful.
The quality of the slides was dreadful, often consisting of photographs from books, which were poorly masked. Unfortunately the pretentious, indulgent and boring nature of 90 per cent of the lecture failed to be relieved by the last few minutes of landscape interest.
The question and answer session followed the same pattern, and I was amazed at Paul Finch's glowing summation and suggestion that a review of the talk might be entitled 'Catalytic Converter'. I, for one, was unconverted.
Richard Pain, pain + phillips architects, Esher, Surrey