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Saturday, April 22, 2006
Tories, a right to beauty and more politicking
BD seems to be turning Tory. (Somehow I don't see Labour Central Office worrying.) Michael Gove, the shadow minister for housing, managed to get an op-ed piece into Building Design magazine (which under its new editor Amanda Baillieu, has caused no end of ruffled feathers by leading last week with Ricky Burdett and the proposed Design Director for London. Cue major kerfuffle among various boroughs and GLA types.)

Headlined 'Tories understand the value of good architecture' he starts off with the motherhood and apple-pie stuff: "Of all the arts, architecture has the most profound effect on how we live. It gives form to our environment, gives expression to our collective identity and gives us all the opportunity to be inspired daily. Poor architecture doesn't just blight the lives of those condemned to live and work in ugly buildings, it cheapens the lives of all those who encounter it. The consequences of poor building design are borne by us all."

Then it gets more dubious:

"A commitment to ensuring that new building meets the highest aesthetic standards has been placed by David Cameron at the heart of the Conservatives' housing, planning and environment policy. During the party's leadership election, David argued for a renewed emphasis on urban regeneration to build beauty back into our communities. The Conservatives' policy co-ordinator, Oliver Letwin, has argued that a right to beauty should guide thinking on the built, and natural environment."


A right to beauty? And how, precisely, can you define that so it will stand up in the Court of Appeal? He goes on to talk about 'a government committed to beauty working in partnership with local authorities and developers freed to innovate'. Classic bathos, methinks. The other key message, for those who are interested: he's pushing for decentralised civic leadership (no different from Labour, then).

And in the same issue, BD turns on David Lammy, the minister for architecture for being "unknown to the profession and silent on architectural issues. He has turned down all BD's regular and increasingly persistent requests for an interview." It's a pretty crude piece, relying on a straw poll of ten architects and a couple of compliant CABE types to conclude that no-one knows who Lammy is. Now I'm not going to argue that he's really done much at all...but if you want to get political, I would rather see BD do it with more substance and polemic.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Rob said...

It'll all be about beauty for the next few weeks. It's just become this month's topic thanks to Alain de Botton and his new book.

2:43 pm  

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