Allo Allo! I come back from holiday to find the great and good farrelling about in a hellman of a muddle over things that we are still not clearly thinking about (Letters, aj 26.8.99).
All very worthy, but what do we mean by access? The agenda is difficult, but who said it was allowed to be commandeered by any given minority. If the disabled lobbyists wish to get a response to their creditable objectives they should broaden their church beyond those whose disabilities raise the easy issues of steps, levels and taxis etc. It is not just about being 'able bodied'.
One of my fellow commuters needs assistance onto our train, not because she cannot walk but because she is blind. My architectural assistant can walk, climb scaffolding, work a theodolite and make babies etc. And yet he is disabled - he is deaf. Pedestrianisation helps them both - go on, ask them.
My wife was temporarily disabled with our two small children. Why should she have to 'struggle up those stairs'? You try getting a twin buggy onto a bus or, better still, across London. The old and infirm can suffer equally. This whole issue goes well beyond wheelchairs and the sooner the debate becomes inclusive rather than marginalised and emotive, the sooner the architectural environment will have a chance of improvement for the betterment of all those who suffer one form of disability or another. Just because you can shout loudest does not infer any more rights than the next person.
Let us not even consider the 'Modernist' approach of Mr Farrell, as that way lies the path of a 'virtual reality' for the disabled which is insulting to the very spiritual core of our art. Surely our architecture must be fit for the people, rather than making the people fit the architecture. Why is it that nearly all our architecture is photographed and represented devoid of humanity and its accoutrements?