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Further blob confusion.

SIR: I am confused about blobs--and you seem to be too. Why is the AR so keen on the Kunsthaus in Graz by Cook and Fournier (last month), and so opposed to the department store in Birmingham by Future Systems (AR October 2003)? You attack the Birmingham building as a 'blue blancmange with chicken pox'. I tend to agree, though I'd liken it to a pustulous slug.

So why the praise for the Graz building, which seems to me from your photographs to be just as indifferent to its surroundings, and just as much like a huge blow-up of something found under stones, though smoothly (slimily?) glistening this time, rather than poxed?

We expect the Review to show some semblance of critical standards. Can you explain yourself?

Yours etc


Los Angeles, USA

The Editor replies:

Though similar in some respects, the two building are very different in crucial ways.

The Graz building has a conversation with the street at ground level, with the cafe and media lounge welcoming the public into the building. In Birmingham, the maw of the beast seems to suck people in, particularly at the upper level.

While the Kunsthaus, for all its strange shapes, is carefully fitted into the existing delicate fabric, the department store ignores its neighbours admittedly they are not distinguished, nor deserving of much affection, but they surely should be treated with at least decent manners.

The skins of both blobs are experimental, but while the Kunsthaus will be easy to clean, and comes from the tested pattern of rain-screen and inner wall, the Birmingham building seems to fly in the face of conventional construction, with extremely complicated cleaning problems. How will it weather? P.D.
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:The Architectural Review
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Apr 1, 2004
Previous Article:Why the differentiation?
Next Article:Munich's economic success, popular appeal and an ambitious programme of building continue to fuel its civic rivalry with Berlin.

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