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Public interest shows engagement works

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Letters

I am sorry that Andrew Lewis (AJ 22.6.00) thinks the launch of Architecture Week at the London Eye was 'fundamentally flawed'.

The purpose of the event (one of 300 events which took place across the country during Architecture Week) was to provide visitors with unique personal commentaries by highprofile figures about the rich diversity of London's architecture. People were informed that an architect, designer, writer or commentator would be joining them on their 'flight'.Anybody who did not wish to take part, had the option of choosing another 'flight' time. Nobody chose an alternative time.

The RIBA is conscious of Lewis' opinion that architects are not 'universally loved' by the public. The whole essence of Architecture Week, therefore is to demystify architecture and make architecture more accessible to the public. The success ofour Architect in the House scheme (we received more than 15,000 telephone calls from clients wishing to register) illustrates that the public does have an interest in architectural design and that they are aware of the benefits architects can bring to their own homes. The popularity of largescale projects such as the BA London Eye, along with other new buildings and developments nationwide (Walsall Art Gallery, the Great Glasshouse, etc) highlights the fact that 'when architecture meets its public', the public actually likes what it sees.

Lewis' remark that 'we should keep ourselves to ourselves' is not only flippant, but it will also further the distance between the public and architects. Engagement with the public won't always be an ego massage. But architects should have the courage to keep at it if the relationship between the public and the profession is going to keep improving.

Roula Konzotis, director of communications, RIBA

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