Scapegoat for all of urban life’s ills: Le Corbusier, c.1950

How dedicated a fascist was Le Corbusier?


The ‘revelations’, 50 years after he drowned, that Le Corbusier was a ‘fascist’ and an anti-Semite are neither fresh nor startling. Indeed they’re old hat. And it defies credibility that the authors of three recent books about this tainted genius… Read more

The many faces of Essex: it was the architects’ intention to create ‘Something Fierce’ — a designed environment that was actively stimulating. ALL PHOTOGRAPHS FROM ESSEX UNIVERSITY'S 50TH ANNIVERSARY BROCHURE

The only way is Essex University


We are told this is now a ‘knowledge economy’. Strange, then, that there are so few recent educational buildings of note. An expansion of universities has not led to much enlightened architectural patronage. Rather the opposite, in fact. The university… Read more

Shigeru Ban’s Cardboard Cathedral, Christchurch

You want a glitzy new cultural centre in Backofbeyondistan? Don’t call Shigeru Ban


Shigeru Ban is the celebrated architect who refuses to become a celebrity. Thus, at 57, his career has run opposite to the dominant trend in the profession. For a generation there has been a star system in architecture, as tacky… Read more

Louisa May Alcott, Orchard House

Bare and authentic or full and fake? The dilemma of preserving writers' houses


Every year, tens of thousands of visitors flock to the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut, in order to see where he lived and wrote. Many famous writers’ homes are preserved for visitors, some of whom are devoted readers (and… Read more

Renaissance view of the Ideal City: detail from a painting attributed to Francesco Giorgio Martini

Dear Simon Jenkins, please stop moaning about developers


When architectural preservationists meet at the tedious conferences and grim councils of despair that feed oxygen to their nihilistic and unventilated ‘heritage’ world-view, the word ‘developer’ is spat out with contempt. It is as though they are speaking of Satan… Read more

Terminal 4, Barajas Airport, Madrid, 1997–2005, designed by Richard Rogers Partnership

Is Richard Rogers still a rebel?


‘Lounge suit’ is normally a reliable signifier of supine gentility. But there it was on the invitation to Richard Rogers’s 80th birthday retrospective. Can this be the same architect once praised by a president of RIBA for his admirable ‘sod… Read more

La Maison Blanche: the house Le Corbusier built as a present for his parents

Le Corbusier was ashamed of the house he built


On the outskirts of La Chaux-de-Fonds, an industrial town in the Swiss Jura, stands one of the most beautiful houses I’ve seen. Elegant and understated, La Maison Blanche is the kind of house you dream of living in. Wide windows… Read more

Detmar Blow’s painting of the east end of the chapel at King’s College, Cambridge, showing his reredos and panelling

Why Rubens should go


The Blow family has had its disasters. There has been madness, murder and suicides. But before those mishaps there was a good man, my grandfather Detmar Blow. In the 1900s he was at his height as a young architect. His… Read more

Burghley House in Lincolnshire provides an Ancestors in the Attic audiovisual introduction to the house

Fact and fantasy


Britain’s country houses were constantly in the news a generation ago. In 1974 The Destruction of the Country House, an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum curated by Roy Strong, Marcus Binney and John Harris, offered a dismal chronicle… Read more

Gilbert Scott’s Battersea Power Station, about to be transformed into a hotel, flats, offices and entertainment area

Building on the past


London was an industrial city until remarkably recently. It seems extraordinary now, but Bankside Power Station was built in 1947, by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, to burn oil right on the banks of the Thames, opposite St Paul’s. What’s more,… Read more


The art of architecture


Leighton House, studio-home of Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830–96), is one of my favourite museums, and always a treat to visit. Leighton House, studio-home of Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830–96), is one of my favourite museums, and always a treat to visit.… Read more