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What a contrast between your two most recent Building Studies.

Design Engine's British embassy in Yemen (AJ 22.02.07) was a modest blend of form and function, a perfect response to what seemed to be an impossibly contradictory brief. This was reinforced by the informative and highly entertaining article by ambassador Mike Gifford, who knows first hand the need for embassies to be open and welcoming, and, by contrast, the over-riding priority for security.

Then came Allford Hall Monaghan Morris' Unity building in Liverpool (AJ 01.03.07). This seems to use a bewildering array of inuences to produce a bafing building with no connection to its context. The photograph of the penthouse poking hideously above the Cunard Building ('a bold new addition to the city's skyline' apparently) says it all.

City of Culture 2008? Give me Sana'a any day.

Hugh Bailey, by email

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