Giving due credit at North Greenwich
In case any readers are interested in the facts behind the awards credit for North Greenwich Station (aj 30.9.99), I would like to state the following:
1. The architectural practice commissioned was Alsop, Lyall and Stormer. 2. I was the partner in charge of the project in the early design stages of the job. 3. Design contributions were made by both Will Alsop and myself.
In the past few years the project has been very successfully completed on site by Roland Paoletti's jle team of architects, who also deserve credit.
John Lyall, London EC2
Town Champions' money is just a minimum
Your support for the Town Champions initiative (Editorial, aj 23.9.99) was welcome. But, in case I am accused of selling the Town Champions' work short, I need to amplify a certain point.
I was quoted as saying that 'upwards of £25,000 on each champion per year' would be likely [spent, by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (cabe); local authorities; or a combination of both]. Of course, each town and brief would reflect a different fee; but I envisaged a sum of £25,000 as a basic fee - with additional sums agreed for particular packages of work as they were identified; finally, a long-term commitment between client and champion is needed to achieve the necessary results.
David Rock, Camp 5
Spitalfields, London E1
(The Town Champions booklet is available from the riba.)
Cities need to shrink their eco footprints
The problem of waste disposal (Martin Pawley, aj 30.9.99), could be expressed in another way; how do we move from a quarrying economy to an economy of husbandry?
One problem with reliance on the wisdom of the 'market' is that, like all automatic mechanisms, it does not have much forethought or imagination. Landfill charges have been rising but not steeply enough to reflect the fact that we are running out of land on or in which to dump. Only when charges do reflect that fact will recycling become not a better option but the only option.
The concept of the 'ecological footprint' of cities - defined as the land surfaces required to feed cities, to supply them with forest products, and to re-absorb their carbon dioxide and other waste output, is one developed by Herbert Girardet who gives the aesr lecture at the riba on 9 November under the title 'Cities, People, Planet'. Richard Rogers will be in the chair.
For instance, London's footprint is 125 times its surface area, or 20 million ha, more than the entire productive land of the uk. In a world of cities, it is crucial for each city to minimise its ecological footprint by measures to ensure maximum resource efficiency.
Kate Macintosh, Finch Macintosh Architects, Winchester
PPG1: outdated, high-handed, gathering dust
If my letter about James Gorst's Chichester scheme misses the point, then I am in good company; to many of us the riba has been missing the point for many years and Wendy Shillam's lofty views about aesthetic control only serve to underline this fact (aj 23.9.99).
I don't expect ppg1 did Gorst any good with the committee in Chichester, which is unlikely to have read the contents, let alone agree with them. Like so many of the riba guidelines, rules etc, they are high-handed and outdated so far as everyday practice and clients are concerned.
What we are talking about is whether ppg1 guidelines are effective and of practical use. Style sheets - which is Shillam's interpretation and a dead give-away for the prejudice that aesthetics should never be thought of in such common terms - is not exactly what I had in mind. It is a simple leaflet, if you like putting the case for ppg1's line on aesthetics. This should be funded and distributed nationally by the riba to back up the regional leaflet like Norfolk Architects, which does plug the idea of using an architect. A set of leaflets on key issues throughout the country would benefit practising architects; ppg1 just gathers dust on the bureaucrats' shelf.
David Rock did the single practitioner a favour with his call to 'adapt or die'. It's a pity that a similar internal memo wasn't circulated around Portland Place.
AJ Lamont, Suffolk
We've been in 'Mode' form for years at shows
The work promoting architects to the public at the 'Mode Contemporary Home Show', carried out by Simon Foxell and others (aj 30.9.99), is a good way of displaying the profession at its best - architects made accessible to people who want help with the design of their homes; able to give informed responses to questions; and providing a practical demonstration of a breadth of knowledge, unmatched by any other members of the building team.
However, having spent a lot of time organising exhibition stands at regional and national shows which feature architects in exactly this way over the last seven years, I was quite interested to note the implication that this was a radical new idea. We have provided face-to-face contact with asba architects to thousands of members of the public over the years and I have long been an advocate of this improving the reputation of the profession. A direct consequence of our work has been the realisation of many projects designed and managed by architects which might otherwise have been left to the mercy of the local 'plansmith'.
Julian Owen, Nottingham
Mum always told me I lived in a tenement
My mum would have been very disappointed to read in 'Building Favourites' (Steel Design, aj 30.9.99) that I came 'from an estate in Glasgow'. What I actually said to Sutherland Lyall was that I was born in a tenement in Glasgow. She insists that this is an important difference and I agree.
I should also point out (with reference to the Rogers House) that I did not say that 'there is not a lot of acoustic privacy'. What I did was to repeat Sue Rogers' assertion that the lightweight partitions to the bedrooms gave so little privacy that it was impossible to fuck if you had guests staying over.
Don Gray, Future Cities, London
Finch's perceptive views will be missed
After a lapse of many years, I returned to the fold as a regular aj subscriber some 15 months ago. On my reckoning I have only enjoyed one-twelfth of Paul Finch's distinguished editorship.
Heading a strong team of first-class specialist editors and contributors, the magazine has more than maintained its pre-eminent position among the architectural weeklies.
I am sure I write for many of us at 'the coal face' who will miss Paul's balanced, perceptive, often original viewpoint. Thank you, Paul, and best wishes and success with the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment.
John Bancroft, Sussex
Nothing new under suns or in supply-chains
In several articles in recent construction and building press (not the aj), I have apparently been quoted on my opinions of supply-chain management. I am purported to have said, 'I don't think supply-chain management has any real life in the long term'. Anyone who knows me and what I and Franklin + Andrews stand for will know that this somewhat misses the point. Supply-chain management (to most people interpreted as simply reducing the number of suppliers with which they do business and all then working together in some kind of altruistic way for the common good) on its own can and will change nothing. Clients may in the short term want to work with fewer people to help drive down cost and this approach may indeed have a short-term positive effect, but in the long term it cannot have real life simply because it shuts out competition within the market, and in the end clients will always want to involve new people in developing new solutions.
From time immemorial people have been trying to drive down cost in the development and marketing of products and services, and we are seeing nothing new in that respect; as the prophet says : 'There is nothing new under the sun' and supply-chain management is no exception. In one form or another it has been around for years.
But we are now on the brink of enormous upheaval in the way we all do business and there is an opportunity to drive out cost by managing the delivery of capital development projects in a way that has never before been possible. This change is not made possible by such nebulous concepts as supply-chain management. What will enable the sea change to take place in the industry is the ability to understand and control every aspect of the process of capital project delivery through modern information- based technology in a totally integrated and controlled way with dynamic links to clients' asset-management and financial models.
In the future, a fundamental prerequisite to doing business with clients will be using totally integrated approaches to development management based on common information-based technology. Once this is in place all those involved in delivering capital projects can start to work together through property incentivised alliance arrangements with the client, delivering construction-based capital projects, focused on the common aim of meeting and/or improving the client's business aspirations. If this is 'Supply- Chain Management', then I'm all for it - but what's in a name!
Martin Bishop, chairman, Franklin + Andrews International Property and Construction Consultants, London SE 1
Grimshaw obscures Paddington tracery
In his article on the new Lawn Building at Paddington (aj 30.9.99) Kenneth Powell notes that the Grimshaw team was encouraged by English Heritage to retain Matthew Digby tracery to the gable end of the train shed.
It is a pity therefore to see that the pattern of the tracery is now all but lost when seen against the backdrop of Grimshaw's new steel structure. Further visual confusion results from the fact that the new roof truss cuts across the arch of the station shed at mid height, with the back of the hotel visible above.
As Powell reminds us, High-Tec architects have long claimed Victorian train sheds to be sources of inspiration. This being the case, the discordant relationship between the new structure and the existing train shed is all the harder to understand.
Keith Garner, London SW11