Debate over architecture is vital – even if some of it grates

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An artist's impression of the proposed new Birmingham Conservatoire in Eastside
An artist’s impression of the proposed new Birmingham Conservatoire in Eastside

Architecture is the most public, the most unavoidable, of the arts.

If you chose, you could live without reading books or listening to music, and without visiting galleries, theatre or cinema.

But buildings, both internally and externally, are the physical setting for our lives, and for better or worse, their design directly affects all of us.

So it is paradoxical that architecture is probably also the least understood of the arts. Few people understand what architects do and how they make design decisions.

I would guess that many readers of this newspaper will have some knowledge of the products and the working methods of Mike Leigh, or David Hockney, or Hilary Mantel.

But how many know anything about Simon Allford, Alison Brooks or Peter Clegg, to mention a few leading British architects? (Incidentally, I don’t absolve us architects from responsibility for this state of affairs, but that’s another story).

So it is welcome when a proposed new building excites comments in the press and social media, even before a decision has been made on planning permission. ….