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Pawley's tools fail to embrace reflection

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letters

I enjoyed Martin Pawley's column last week (AJ 28.10.04). Of course he is correct, buildings are tools to be used and improved, altered and replaced over and over again in all the processes of living. But is it not an equally fantastic delusion to suggest that, having used a building, we should not reflect on the cultural framework of the society that responded with all its energies in that endeavour, and to draw out a new meaning from that building about that culture?

Or is his Modernity only grasping for cultural wrappers that, once used, have no further value? Is that not a debasement of architecture itself to suggest that its value will not sustain examination? How do we know a good wrapper without reflection upon a bad one? 'The undiscovered territory of the architectural mind' has no meaning to itself or anyone else without the context of the art-historical value system.

Rather than complaining about an increased value being placed upon our past, the Modernist would do better to embrace the process of reflection and protection as an opportunity for Modernity to acquire value in future.

Paul Latham, director, Neu Architects, London E1

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