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Sutherland Lyall on websites.

e-interiors the professional web tool for interior designers is at The idea seems to be that you download three-dimensional images of specific furniture and put them in your own computer model. So far so good, terrific even. The reality is difficult to assess because this can be one slow download. With a fast ADSL modem it took a minute and a half - in which time you would have logged off and surfed the entire Buckminster Fuller oeuvre elsewhere. I tried it on other computers and modems and it was a tad faster on one of these but when the various bits of the home page emerged it turned out that the main section could only be read by extensive use of the sliders - on a 19in screen too. You may have better luck: the site was apparently designed on a Mac. But I am irresistibly drawn to that twenty-first century cry: 'Well it works on MY computer'. Zero for brain-damaged site design even if it is 'supported by astute programming' - er, not.

Chaumont-sur-Loire gardens

Every year there is this wonderful show of small landscapes at Chaumont-sur-Loire some kiometres south of Paris. It's called the Conservatoire international des parcs et jardins et du paysage.

The 30 or so gardens are small, low budget and, mostly, seriously over the top. It is exactly what is needed by the overly tweedy, cottage garden- and herbaceous border-prone landscape world. This annual shot in the arm has a website,, and, no wimpish concessions to hopeless foreigners, it's in French. At the time of writing it was just a home page but the promoters promise me they will have complete coverage by the time you read this.


You may recently have tried to buy an office website name and discovered that all the arch.coms and arch.nets and arch.orgs had long since been sold to the Masons or the manufacturers of specialist preformed lintels. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has just started to solve this by releasing seven new suffixes starting with .info. No, ICANN isn't contemplating releasing dot arch. But lurking in the electronic shadows is at It's a US company which has started up an alternative naming system and is currently selling such suffixes as .shop, .video, .love, .arts, .mp3 and more - and the Internet establishment is coldly furious because ICANN's credibility is based purely on general consensus, not god-given right.

A friend of this column recently bought a site with the suffix .fm, (because it sounds like a radio station call sign) and another bought a site with a .tv suffix - useful for video companies and the Sydney Mardi Gras. These are perfectly legitimate place suffixes, originally allocated to Southern hemisphere island groups. Having few computers and modems they sold their Internet birthrights for millions to Western entrepreneurs. But these aren't It's a maverick and, just maybe, the collective international architectural establishment could persuade it to set up a dot architecture suffix.

Renzo Piano Building Workshop

An ordinary architectural practice can use its website as part of its marketing thrust. Heropractices have a kind of obligation to do a lot more than that. You expect a well annotated and illustrated oeuvre complete, footnoted history, bibliography, efficient search engine and fast downloads. The Renzo Piano Workshop Foundation official site is at Nice blue grey opening page with small graphic and six choices: Piano, Works, Archives, Exhibitions, News and The Workshop. In Works you have a choice of four decades and in each decade a thumbnail of the major projects. Click on, say, the Cy Twombley gallery of 1993 and you get a 300 word text and a link to photos and drawings and another link to a database which gives the basic credits, a list of archived drawings, and a bibliography. In the latter there are links to Amazon where you can order the relevant book. Back in the text, key words are highlighted: click on them and they provide additional elucidation. Click on a drawing and you'll be asked i f you want to download a DXF reader from Autodesk. It's terrific. No clever tricks, plain, fast-downloading text in the main - and the content is organized in a lucid way which can only have been devised by a librarian - or at least someone who cares deeply about information-delving. This has to be the most useful hero-website going.

Goldmine in Bolivia

Finally an odd and delicious site: It's part of a bigger Bolivian site called which is otherwise in the language of the country, Spanish. There is an extensive architecture/building section and somebody has been searching promiscuously for architecture-related sites. It's a treasury, and full of unexpected pleasures.
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Title, Chaumot-sur-Loire,,
Publication:The Architectural Review
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Aug 1, 2001
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Next Article:Letters.

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