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Industrial monument should be saved

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Letters

What is happening to architecture in Wales ?

Lottery-funded buildings are opening month by month. But what does the Welsh National Assembly choose to do? Hand over £6.3 million of public money for the destruction of one of the twentieth century's architectural masterpieces: the Brynmawr rubber factory.

I became fascinated with this extraordinary building while a student at the Bartlett. Its story is as extraordinary as its demolition now, at Welsh Labour's hands, is ironic. It was the flagship of post-war regional regeneration. An unlikely collaboration of eccentric aristocrats, paternal capitalists, idealistic architects and the Attlee government pushed and pulled together to get it built.

I wrote a book about Brynmawr entitled Built for Better Future and two years ago, in a BBC series about the industrial heritage of South Wales, I argued that we lose these beacons at our peril. The combination of spectacular scenery and dramatic industrial architecture could, indeed, make the Welsh valleys a compelling tourist attraction.

Why could the Brynmawr factory not be treated like Harlech Castle?

Why could the £6.3 million not be spent on stripping away the asbestos, the old equipment and unsightly '60s additions, leaving the spectacular concrete domes intact?

In Germany's industrial heartland along the River Saar, is the stunning new Burgerpark built on a former coaldock. Rather than razing all the magnificently defunct structures to the ground, they remain like giant follies as a reminder of the past.

Why is this imagination lacking at Brynmawr?

Victoria Perry, Victoria Perry Architects, London EC1

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