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Piranesi's etchings can add artistry to design

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Following the article on Somerset House (AJ 8.6.00), I was shown, by Portland Place curator Paul Nash, the original Piranesi etchings that influenced Sir William Chambers' work on Somerset House when Sir William met the artist in Rome in the eighteenth century (1000 copper-plate prints).

Inskip and Jenkins has done an interesting design and conversion job at Somerset House, including the new public route from the Piranesean, prison-like river barge entrance arch, past Dixon and Jones' cafe and courtyard.

In this time of sustainable re-use, architects cannot afford to miss referring to these books of 14781840, including: Lord Burlington's Alberti of 1485, the original Serlio of 1537, with its frequently copied first woodcut of the five orders, and the early, useful, construction manuals.

Tony Edwards, London, NW5

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