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Astragal: Roger Scruton – trawling through the past in search of offence

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Writing recently in defence of new housing tsar Roger Scruton, fellow provocateur Toby Young hit out at the army of ‘offence archaeologists’ trawling the internet (mainly the philosopher’s own website) in search of morsels of controversy 

Perhaps this was where Scruton got the idea for his Fabric of the City lecture last week, in which the 72-year-old embarked on an hour-long dig through the fossils of the modern movement in his quest for things to lambast.

Some new offenders also made it on the philosopher’s slideshow of shame for committing the cardinal sin of ‘standing out’. These included Bblur’s bus station in Slough (‘repugnant creature emerging from the primeval slime’), Foster’s Sage in Gateshead (‘an anti-urban bubble’) and Libeskind’s ‘hatchet job’ of the Dresden museum.

But ploughing the depths of his arsenal of disgust, Morphosis’s academic centre in New York took the biggest battering, with the author dismissing it as a ‘frozen residue’ void of all compositional grammar and sense of place. It was this type of attention-seeking structure, he said, that exemplified the latest trend, seeking to design buildings that emulate ‘household gadgets’.

Is Scruton thinking too of the Cheesegrater? Or – though not strictly a gadget – the Can of Ham? Presumably he’d be happier with a replica mangle – if designed in a Classical manner of course.

Everything in the garden is rosy 

Dan pearson twitterpic webcrop

Dan pearson twitterpic webcrop

The Garden Bridge may be proving a slight drag on Boris Johnson’s political ambitions but there remains no hint of embarrassment from him or any of its other key players over its ruinous collapse.

Interviewed by London’s Evening Standard –  the media’s key cheerleader for the project – the scheme’s garden designer Dan Pearson (pictured) put a remarkably positive spin on its demise.

Asked whether this had been painful for him personally, Pearson replied cheerily: ‘It’s not necessarily bad because we learned a lot. You can’t dwell upon it as being a negative, otherwise it burns a hole in the time you spent.’

Pearson – who frustrated the Garden Bridge Trust when the scheme was still alive by saying very little in public in support of it – even seems to feel good about its public impact, despite the loss of close to £50 million of taxpayers’ money.

‘I think the Garden Bridge had positive influences on how people thought about green space in cities,’ he told the paper.

Inspired by Hockney  

Hockney

Hockney

David Hockney’s celebrated Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) was sold last week at Christie’s in New York for just over $90 million, an auction record for a work by a living artist.

This must have been particularly exciting for Martyna Felus at Sanya Polescuk Architects, who celebrated a very rapid planning approval for the practice’s new project, an energy-generating pool canopy in north London built from everyday materials, with the above Hockney-inspired visualisation.

AA’s silver bullet 

This time of year can be expensive. But hopefully the partygoers at the Architecture Association’s inaugural Silver Gala at the London school’s home in Bedford Square got their money’s worth last Saturday.

The bash, the invite stated, had been organised to help support the AA’s public programme and publications. 

Readers may recall how the school – which is now headed by Eva Franch i Gilabert – last year slashed the size of its publications department and made several staff redundant. 

Attendees to the ‘black/silver’ tie shindig were promised ‘cocktails, performances, delicious food, wine, and people’.

And the cost of the event? A mere £500 a ticket.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Mr Scruton puts me in mind of Frank Zappa's Central Scrutinizer in both name and deed.

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