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Seeking an ideal option for government architecture

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The recent consultation document from the dcms suggested four options for the future funding and organisation of architecture from a government perspective. In brief they were to leave things as they are; give the Arts Council more power; give the department more power; and set up an independent new body. The body could be a 'new' rfac.

At a meeting organised by the Arts Council at the ica this week, panellist Richard Burdett struck a chord in suggesting that the current exercise was largely about cost-cutting, and that the future of architecture depended on cultural conditions. But he warned against pessimism, urging an initiative to convince the government to take architecture more seriously.

Terry Farrell put the problem bluntly: to get good architecture, you need good architects. He urged the democratisation of information about what is happening in towns and cities, and the inclusion of urban design in all discussions about architecture. Marjorie Allthorpe-Guyton made the case for the Arts Council being an engine (but not the only one) for future change, while Kate Heron, who chairs the ace's architecture unit, was concerned at the effect of architecture being located within a department perceived as weak.

Speakers including Richard MacCormac and Michael Hopkins bewailed the current situation. It was left to Max Hutchinson (urging more Arts Council powers and funding) and publisher Mark Swenarton (making the case for an rfac-type body) to focus attention on the choices yet to be made. The Swenarton proposition found most favour.

Textile designer Sharon Elphick has combined her head for heights with a taste for tower blocks to produce a range of wallpapers and prints of skyscraper facades. 'I want people to re-evaluate something that is considered an eyesore,' she said

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