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Moral dilemma if 'Our Boys'play the games

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The AJ (19.7.01) contained three articles whose appearance together was truly ironic. At the back were reviews of Watkins' book Morality and Architecture and an exhibition of figurative sculpture during the Nazi era.At the front was an article, almost patriotic in tone, of the pursuit of the big contracts by British architects (or, if you prefer, 'Our Boys') for the Beijing Olympics.

What wonderful irony. There are a thousand ways of obfuscating the issue in order to abdicate individual responsibility. The sad thing (for Our Boys) is that there are few ways to do this for Beijing. The people who really benefit are the International Olympic Committee and Chinese regime, an unholy alliance of an unelected, unaccountable behemoth with an unelected, unaccountable despotic regime.

Of course, there are specious arguments to be made - with greater mutual understanding we can influence them, cooperation rather than coercion etc.

Only the hopelessly naive or horribly cynical could use these.

And anyway, they have done (and are doing) the crime (think of Tibet), so where is the justice?

Architectural newspeak is littered with the morally correct words - 'sustainable', 'environmental', 'community'. Interesting to see if this laudable moral stance has real substance, or whether we will have to suffer the sycophantic praise of these heroic, flagship projects.

I am, however, an optimist. I am sure the whole charade will be dismissed as being as irrelevant as it is offensive, and be thrown in to the dustbin of history - where it belongs.

M A Szutenberg, Richmond, Surrey

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