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Spiralling criticism: could do better

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It is a bit sad to read the interview with Thomas Heatherwick, deriding architects for 'using their heads more than their hands', only to turn a few pages more to see his views demonstrated in his own work.

If Heatherwick employed more brains and less brawn, he might have derived a slightly more convincing solution to the construction of the staircase he designed in Newcastle.

It is fine to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on an extravagant use of timber and boat-building technology if the result justifies it. But his poor boat builders spent seven months making this wonderful object, only to have its magic completely undermined because it ends up being held up by a piece of grey steel pipe!

It is hard to imagine how the structure could have been so poorly designed so as to make the gargantuan stringer not even capable of supporting itself! Even the most mediocre architect would find this just unacceptable. The best architects and engineers, however, say 75 years ago, without a computer in sight, were designing breathtaking sweeping staircases from reinforced concrete of only 10cm thickness at the 'waste' (sic) with no supplementary support whatsoever! Go back several hundred years further and others were doing similar things, just using stone.

It is a bit tragic that such conceited and ignorant attitudes still prevail towards architects.

Even those in closely associated professions still fail to acknowledge how good architects are and what high standards are generally maintained.

Jenny Hamilton, London SW1

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