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Sutherland Lyall grabs a liana and swings through the cyber jungle.

A price on his head

Architecture For All is at www.architectureforall.com. Actually a bit of it is really Architecture for the Fairly Rich because this RIBA + Victoria and Albert Museum collaboration is offering them the possibility of adopting one of 237 drawings in the collection for donations of between [pounds sterling]5000 and [pounds sterling]15 000. It's not an immensely original idea -- years ago a friend of mine 'adopted' Rosie the Rhino at London Zoo for rather less than the sums mentioned. Er, fifty quid actually. For your five to 15 grand you get a 'High quality framed reproduction' plus a description of the subject by the RIBA curator, Charles Hind, a numbered certificate and, more interestingly for entrepreneurs, the 'right to reproduce the image for a greeting card or other agreed private use.' Poor old Charles, I bet writing notes on 'adopted' drawings and policing copyright wasn't on his original job description. Or the fact that naming his curatorship is also up for grabs for an unspecified sum: 'Hi, I'm the Ti mothy Fortescue-Smythe III Curator of Royal Institute of British Architects Drawings at the Victoria and Albert Museum'. Or, better, 'Hi, I'm the Pink Rhino Lapdance Curator of' etc... Don't sneer, Hind will carry it off elegantly. According to the site, 'Adoption will begin on the date the gallery opens at the V&A'. So the above may not necessarily come about for some time. Or even ever.

Floreatus architectus laureatus

Among the items in the RIBA's extraordinary and wonderful collection is one of the few Sydney Opera House models Jorn Utzon didn't burn (as legend has it) in that remote fjord all those years ago. Oz and Denmark are battling it out to claim this year's Pritzker prizewinner as their own. According to the Sydney Morning Herald (www.smh.com.au/articles/) 'the American organizers have said that this year's winner is "almost an Aussie".' The tall-poppy-cutters weren't saying that about him 37 years ago. Although there are more than 11 000 references to him at Google, Utzon doesn't have a site of his own. If you were one of the best known architects in the world, in your mid eighties and living quietly in a Majorcan paradise, why would you? London publishing whizzkid and former journalist, Peter Murray, has just written an account of the Utzon years -- based on the prosaic but hard documentary evidence of the Arup files. One pleasure is discovering who, despite all the hints, winks, nudges and allusions we've had from them over the years, wasn't much involved -- and who wasn't at all involved in the design of those Stupendous roofs. Another is how, even from the one-sided Arup perspective, Utzon still emerges as the hero: Hamlet rather than Henry V, hero nonetheless. The Saga of Sydney Opera House is published in September by Spon at www.sponpress.com (MacMillan as they're known in Oz).

Information underload

For reasons I'd rather not go into I got stuck in the German section of ArchINFORM at www.archinform.net and had to check back with Review's site at www.arplus.com (click on Directories and then, ahem, Browser). I would say it, wouldn't I, but the AR site is a model of succinct, easily navigated usefulness. (And while I'm in house ad mode let me urge you to take a look at our sister site at www.ajplus.co.uk -- and maybe divvie up for the very useful subscription service.) Whatever, back in the English language version of ArchINFORM you are, these days, faced with an anti-war message which concludes, 'Please decide:

"Yes, I believe in mankind and agree with this." or "This opinion is old european bulishit!"'

I'm not at all unsympathetic to the sentiments but the have-you-stopped-beating-your-wife obtuseness had me hitting on the latter. I should have known. The link was to the Welcome! Willkommen! etc page of the Old Europe restaurant (Washington DC's Premier German Restaurant, founded 1948). Deciding to believe in mankind after all, you click 'english' instead of 'deutsch' below the image of Breughel's tower of Babel. Please, don't do it, it's not exactly fresh any more, ArchINFORM is based in Berlin, has contributors with specialisms including New Zealand, Belgian gothic and Czech Cubism although the site seems mainly to be about contemporary architecture. You can register new projects on the standard form they provide. Retreating to the 'text search' page I forlornly attempted 'Callicrates' and then didn't bother with 'Ictinus'. The 'locations' page seemed not to respond although a later look revealed that you have to click on one of the very small letters of the alphabet under the main menu. This was an unwe lcome side effect of over-minimalism and poor browser eyesight. Clicking on 'persons was rather easier on the eye: here was a prominent list of people whose birthday it was that day. I looked up French landscape designer, Bernard Lassus, and got 16 pages of useful stuff. Checking Out for the presence of Will Alsop I found Alsop & Stormer. Er, still? Maybe the Berlin boys are in chauvinist denial. Especially when you discover the last update was 30 March this year. But for all this and for all its sparseness this is a site worth putting in your Favourites file: it claims to have more than 11 000 built and unbuilt projects.

Food for thought at the shallow end

Poor research, mea culpa: the Design Museum site is apparently the work of Deepend, not the Warm Company. It's now being maintained by ex-Deepend people, Recollective, and has a new museum identity designed by Graphic Thought Facility. Sadly, for a design museum, none of this information was readily discoverable.

Game for a change

CAD monkeys at the back of the office will long since have been familiar with www.shockwave.com whose collection of games is legendary. The other great plug-in operation is Flash. A truly great Flash developer is Liam O'Donnell at www.spikything.com. However, sound is so integral to his work that I would consider buying a miniature earpiece -- even if that means abandoning the morning head shave in order to disguise the cord.

Sutherland Lyall is at sutherland.lyall@btinternet.com
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Title Annotation:meshed briefs
Publication:The Architectural Review
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 1, 2003
Words:1044
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