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Saturday19 August 2017

Stephen Fry: 'We should be living in a golden age of architecture'

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AYA host calls for architecture to be placed ‘centre stage’ in UK development

Stephen Fry addresses BD's Architect of the Year Awards 2016

Source: Dean O’Brien

Stephen Fry addresses BD’s Architect of the Year Awards

 

Problems like the housing crisis and mediocre development will be overcome by the “sheer shining talent” of Britain’s finest architects, Stephen Fry predicted at BD’s Architect of the Year Awards.

The best architecture will filter down and eventually become “ordinary and expected – and that’s a marvellous thing”, he said.

He praised the 800 architects at the awards ceremony for their part in shaping a better world and said theirs was a glorious calling.

Ugliness was a moral failure, he said, singling out Leo A Daly’s Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City as a particularly egregious example, likening it to a marble abattoir.

Earlier, giving the keynote speech at the Ecobuild conference, he warned that our best architects were building abroad because they were not appreciated here.

And he articulated “everyone’s nightmare” that English towns and cities were being “world-glossed” into Dubai.

“We ought to be living in a golden age of architecture, if we could allow architecture to take centre stage in the business of development and construction,” he said.

Every month “magical” new materials were invented which “together with a trained architect and enlightened public officials and contractors could allow us to live in a self-confidently modern age that could be thrilling.”

Instead he warned the country not to repeat the mistakes of the last century and build “offensive” flats with walls that could be punched through.

“We are led by crisis in this country and our crisis is housing, as it was after the war,” he said.

“Planners were being pushed to build, build, build and it took us two decades to see what happened. Now we are being told the same but we want to see proper housing. We want to build things that aren’t contemptuous of people and where we feel the architect has loved us and took pleasure and joy in leading us round a place.”

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Readers' comments (16)

  • Mike Duriez

    A Golden Age of Crapitecture.

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  • SomeoneStoleMyNick

    Ah -along with RIBA President Jane Duncan, here's another cheerleader for the eviction of council tenants, breaking up communities, demolishing their homes, and turning the whole thing over to private developers.

    The idea is that architects just decorate. An extermination camp would be fine so long as architects design it brilliantly. Same approach.

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  • It sounds like Mr Fry is perceptive when it comes to architecture and indeed is talking good sense.

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  • Austin Clegg

    A lot of muddled platitudes delivered by this smug and sanctimonious luvvie.

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  • Irrelevant - like the old pope used to talk about contraception

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  • No wonder people mistrust architects, someone gives a well meaning speech in support of the profession and all people here can do is slate them for it.

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  • @Soupdragon

    I agree, was writing something similar.

    @Austin and SSMN

    How did you get that from this:

    “Planners were being pushed to build, build, build and it took us two decades to see what happened. Now we are being told the same but we want to see proper housing. We want to build things that aren’t contemptuous of people and where we feel the architect has loved us and took pleasure and joy in leading us round a place.”

    Stephen Fry is one of the good ones, he may not be an academic of architecture but he's not smug and he's not an idiot.

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  • Austin Clegg

    @Cthululu
    I did not say that Fry was not well-intentioned- he clearly is, merely that these are wafty platitudes about golden ages and how nice it would be if things were better. What exactly does he mean by 'proper housing', for instance? We can all sneer at Donald Trump, but where are the examples of something he thinks we should be aspiring to?

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  • Andrew Jones

    @ Austin

    You have digressed to The Donald, so I will answer your question. Listen to one of his speeches and, in between the spurts of rabble-rousing venom, he talks about trade agreements and job security. He knows his blue collar electorate and talks their language. Listen to the press reports and all you hear about is grotesque stuff - this is the "managed smokescreen" that makes him so dangerous.

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  • He didn't say anything we don't already know, but he knows his stuff so you have to congratulate him on his education and knowledge.

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