Alan Powers rss

The London Library

New wonders among old shelves at the London Library

14 June 2014

The Royal Court Theatre, the Young Vic Theatre and the London Library (above) are buildings of varied character and rich history. What they have in common is that each has… Read more

House rules

8 October 2011

Britain needs more houses, and the government’s highly unpopular draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) at least asks how to get them — the right question even if it gives… Read more


Vertically challenged

27 November 2010

St Paul’s Cathedral is quite rightly something of a national obsession. No other building has protected ‘view corridors’ as a result of legislation in 1935, when new building regulations allowed… Read more

Classical peaceniks

19 May 2010

The Three Classicists RIBA, until 29 May The Berlin Wall separated two sets of people who shared a history and language. In the same way, architecture has been divided into… Read more


Gothic dream

24 March 2010

Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill Victoria & Albert Museum, until 4 July ‘I waked one morning at the beginning of last June from a dream, of which all I could recover… Read more


Halfway to heaven

25 March 2009

When some 700 people throng the auditorium at Earl’s Court to hear a debate about whether eco houses are ugly, then a frustrated tree-hugger like myself may feel that we… Read more

Give a dog a bad name

17 September 2008

Alan Powers on Parliament Square Does nobody love Parliament Square? Days before the Mayoral election, Tristram Hunt called it a ‘terrible place: inaccessible, ugly, polluted and grotty’ in the Guardian.… Read more

Concrete and carbuncles

11 June 2008

‘London smells Tory,’ announced Ian Martin, the Beachcomber of architectural journalism post-Boris in his weekly column in the Architects’ Journal. Heritage wars have broken out over the future of a… Read more


Lines of beauty

14 November 2007

The date of George Frederick Bodley’s death (1907) offers a partial explanation for a commemorative exhibition, but ‘comes the hour, comes the man’ also applies, and in this case the… Read more

Ignoring fossil fuels

19 October 2006

Earlier this year, a book appeared celebrating the first ten years of the Stirling Prize for architecture. Back in 1996, recession was only just ending and the National Lottery just… Read more

Popular appeal

14 June 2006

Last time it was cows, this time it’s sheep. I’m not talking about an agricultural show, but about the London Architecture Biennale, which begins today when Lord Foster will be… Read more

Moving on

19 May 2006

Listing page content here Twenty years ago, Britain was gripped by an architectural battle of styles. The Lloyd’s building in the City opened, representing the hopes for a resurgence of… Read more

Rootstock of radicalism

4 March 2006

London is about to experience two exhibitions about early 20th-century Modernism. The V&A is mounting a substantial themed display of design, art, film and life, based primarily on France and… Read more

Regency revival?

26 November 2005

W.S. Gilbert’s parody of Oscar Wilde, Reginald Bunthorne, wanted to make a minor scandal with his belief that ‘art stopped short in the cultivated court of the Empress Josephine’. In… Read more

Importance of ornament

29 October 2005

The Modern Movement in architecture had scarcely succeeded in abolishing ornament before people began to speculate about how and when it would return. In Britain, the historian Sir John Summerson,… Read more

Triumph of tenacity

8 October 2005

If you are driving along the A14 coming west towards Cambridge, the tower of Bury St Edmunds cathedral suddenly pops up on the skyline at a bend in the road.… Read more

Draughtsman of genius

11 June 2005

C. R. Cockerell RA (1788–1863) The Professor’s Dream is the title of a small exhibition (until 25 September) in the Tennant Room at the Royal Academy, a relatively new space… Read more

Take the yellow brick road

19 February 2005

Ever since W.S. Gilbert’s Lady Jane lamented, ‘Oh, South Kensington!’ in Patience, 1881, the place has carried a regretful quality. Owing to the extraordinary lack of confidence shown by successive… Read more

Printing matters

29 January 2005

This year marks the 70th anniversary of Penguin Books, a company that has done more for design in Britain than any other commercial or government organisation. The slightly improvised look… Read more