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When money is more important than sex

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Many readers must have heard Woman's Hour on Bank Holiday Monday, where the subject of the way we design our cities was given an airing, not least by your regular correspondents Jeremy Melvin and Katherine Shonfield, Much of what they had to say made good sense, as did comments by Lord Rogers and Clare Frankl. The question which lay in the background, but which did not emerge, was whether designs by women were really very different to designs by men. This difficult area was partly addressed by a review of a housing scheme in Vienna, where the use of wide corridors and ample lighting gave an ambience of safety often missing from social housing blocks, and in this instance it seemed to be the result of an explicitly feminist programme.

However, what generally stops 'generous' design of this sort is budget, not discrimination. As if to emphasise the point, Radio 4's new Front Row programme on the same day carried an interview with Amanda Levete about the design of the new Media Centre at Lord's. What an irony: the organisation accused of all sorts of discrimination, and whose members repeatedly vote to exclude women as members (against the advice of the executive) turns out to be a patron of good architecture, which in this instance turns out to be by a (gasp) woman.

What we want is good designers of either sex working to decent programmes.


Rainham, Essex

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