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Getting buildings built is our raison d'etre

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LETTERS

I feel annoyed with myself at letting Mr Alsop get a rise out of me but his voluble ramblings do become rather tiresome as a regular slot.

Perhaps I am just envious but the irritation is compounded by the obligatory reference to the far-flung bar or plane seat upon which his broad behind always contrives to find itself at the time of writing.

Take competitions, talent and Zaha Hadid, as addressed in his last missive (AJ 5.7.01). I fear that this shallow perception of architectural talent is in itself one of the very things so detrimental to the breathing space allowed to the profession.

Whether or not one accepts that the studied avoidance of the vertical and horizontal line that characterises the work he praises is necessarily exciting or evidence of talent can be left stuck to the wall for now. However, it has to be recognised that, fundamentally, the architect designs buildings, not drawings and models.

If a London society architect wins an enviable reputation on the gallery circuit but, failing to get anything built (through competition or otherwise), must retreat elsewhere, then as I see it they are lacking in a considerable proportion of the skills that constitute architectural talent.

There is little achieved - architecturally or socially - by designing nice, paper buildings.

OK, some leading lights thinking ahead of their time are essential to the development of architectural thought within the profession, but the cause of good architecture is crippled by mistaking their aspirations for a more general goal.

Only by designing buildings that get built do we have much influence on the public perception of architecture and thus the environment within which architects strive to work.

Rod Kemsley, Glasgow

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