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IS MODERN LIFE ANY BETTER THAN MODERNISM?

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LETTERS

The V&A must be rubbing its hands with glee at all the free publicity its Modernism blockbuster show is gaining in the press.

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian comes close to proving Godwin's Law (which measures the time it takes before an internet discussion on any given topic invokes Hitler) in print.

He may have a point. The best buildings combine vision with a degree of sympathy for public taste. The Modernists could hardly lay claim to giving the public what it wanted.

But if Modernism led to the poorly constructed highdensity housing that blights large areas of our cities, then what of the equally poorly designed medium-density housing estates that are cropping up to replace them? A design which the developers would claim gives people what they want.

Is the rise and rise of the modern equivalent of the two-up two-down really any better? Surely no-one will be calling for the preservation of such stock during the latter half of this century.

The likelihood is that these designs will soon begin to look as insubstantial, dated, and downright ugly as many of the towers that crowd out our city skylines.

Modernism may have been dead end, but the sort of bland medium-density suburbia that has appeared in its place is no solution either. The challenge for today's architects is not to impose their ideas on an unwilling public, nor to capitulate to the tyranny of popular taste, but to provide - dare I say it - a third way.

Joseph Donahue, London SW2

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