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Proof of the design is in the eating

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It is noticeable in the Egan report on creating a more efficient construction sector that architecture (in the sense of design quality) rates very little mention.

You get the impression that what Sir John and the British Airports Authority would really like - despite having procured good buildings by, for example, Rab Bennetts - is a procurement and delivery system trumpeted by McDonald's as the answer to every client's prayers.

Based on prefabrication, standardisation and super-fast assembly times, the typical McDonald's building, with its sawn-off Chinese pagoda roof, is an exact analogy to the food product in which the company specialises. So the question arises: do we really want our buildings to be like hamburgers? And if we don't, do we think that the mass housing produced by the Georgians was not, in its way, hamburger architecture?

I would like to think that while there is a place for fast-food outlets, the philosophy behind them is not one we want to determine the future of the built environment. We want buildings that are rich, subtle, complex and fine - a different sort of cuisine.



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