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KATHERINE SHONFIELD

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It is comforting indeed to know that the best interests of architecture and urbanism are so ably served by Sir Sydney Chapman mp and architect. It is he, you will recall, who as chairman of the august Commons and Works Committee, who has put a large question mark over Foster's project to make both Trafalgar and Parliament Squares available for pedestrians for the first time. The scheme may, he fears make it more difficult for the police to hold up the traffic in order for mps to get to work in their cars. If we had only taken similar advice from Sir Sid's ancestors, the world would have been spared some nasty snarl ups.

In 1902 there was Sid-the-Kid-you-Not Chapstein who tried in vain to get New York to listen to his view that that big, useless, rectangle in the centre of Manhattan would make a swell car-park. A couple of centuries earlier, Monsignor Siddaccio Ciappuomo's scheme to convert the arcades in front of St Peter's into a one-way fast-track priests-only lane, avoiding unnecessary perambulations by clerics on their way to work at the Vatican, was brought to the attention of an intrigued Pope. More recently, the unforgettable Comrade Sid Cha Mang's proposal during the Cultural Revolution to replace the Great Wall of China with a couple of sets of Belisha beacons and some scaled-up, button-operated 'wait' signs, was unfortunately misinterpreted by Mao as a product of corrupt Western imperialism, and resulted in death by a thousand cuts. We can only mourn what might have been.

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