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Neutrality of Selfridges is a cause for concern

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letters

I find myself sympathising with Esi Cakmakcioglu (aj 4.5.00) but fear that her pleas may fall on deaf ears as did those of the small boy of fairy tales who noticed that the emperor was indeed naked and without ornament.

There is another myth that Modernism eschews decoration and ornamentation but this is not the case, and its application by those who have mastered the art is the primary source of influence that the built environment has upon people who experience it and the psychology that follows as a result.

The proposal for the Birmingham Selfridges exposes a tendency towards a neutralised environment with no signature of time nor sense of place, and which may ultimately deny us our sense of either past or future in creating an eternal 'anechoic' present (albeit ever so cool).

However, my initial reaction is to revert to the recent discussions vis- a-vis Pevsner and conclude that the subject of Esi Cakmakcioglu's distress is merely a 'building'; it clearly is not 'architecture' - let's just hope Selfridges can sell lots of bicycles.

Simon Danischewsky, Cambridge

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