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Market forces

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Will Alsop has crossed (architectural) swords with Lord Foster on more than one occasion, often to Foster's advantage, occasionally to Alsop's (eg the Marseilles Grand Bleu project). Now, in an unusual challenge, Alsop has suggested that the future of Spitalfields market in east London could be rather more dramatic than the scheme envisaged by Foster and Partners, which replaces half of the existing market with a mainly commercial scheme. The Alsop alternative, flagged up in (of all places) the residential property supplement in the Sunday Times , suggests giant buildings on stilts, thereby allowing for public uses at ground level without taking away the commercial possibilities above.

The idea has drawn support, it is said, from people as diverse as Tracey Emin, Jeannette Winterson and William Taylor, chaplain to the nearby London Guildhall University. Sunday Times architectural correspondent Hugh Pearman approves, saying Alsop's version 'provides a resolution between developers, local traders and residents'. He claims the design 'isn't nearly as strange as Hawksmoor's church was in its day'.

I think this is a compliment. No doubt Will and Norm can swap views at the 10th anniversary dinner of the Architectural Foundation in a fortnight.

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