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Chipperfield says London's 'public realm is dead'

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David Chipperfield has slammed London’s attitude towards placemaking and hit out at the UK architecture’s reliance on private development

In an interview with The Guardian, the architect contrasted the UK capital’s approach to that taken in Berlin, where he has an office with 90 staff.

He said: ‘[In Berlin there was] still an idea of the public realm. We have given that up in London. We have declared the public realm dead; the question is how to get stuff out of the private sector. We are unbelievably sophisticated at that.’

In the late 1990s, Chipperfield’s firm undertook designs for the restoration of the Stirling Prize-shortlisted Neues Museum in Berlin - a process he said was based on a serious debate about meaning - a debate that he said was lacking in Britain.

He told The Guardian: ‘Clearly the war and the fact Germany had to reconstruct itself spiritually as well as physically means it is a much more reflective society than ours.

‘Ours is a success-based culture. If something is successful it’s successful. Whereas here [in Berlin] there is a lot of discussion about what things mean.’

Chipperfield also said it was ‘shocking’ how little David Cameron – who he met during a visit to German chancellor Angela Merkel’s country residence – knew about Europe and Germany.

He also expressed disappointment at the current wave of anti-Europe sentiment in the UK.

‘I find it an ungenerous view of the world. I’m suspicious of this tendency to go small rather than go big, to be protective and draw lines and it seems to me to be a retrograde step,’ he said.

Chipperfield won the Stirling Prize in 2007 for his work on the Museum of Modern Literature at Marbach am Neckar in Germany.

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