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When Hi Tech goes wrong

Phin Harper has written an article in the Spectator about the new Hi Tech exhibition being hosted at the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich. He talks in particular about the failure of Stansted Airport where Foster’s original clear and open design has been hijacked by commerce, epitomised by the Wetherspoons windmill, seen here.

The airport, intended to be a model of clarity, is now a confusing maze – on arrival you have to march past a mass of duty-free shopping which destroys all sense of direction. From here he argues that ‘Superstructuralism has become consumed by the very ideologies its founders were trying to subvert — disregard for nature, mass consumption of resources and authoritarian control of movement are all typified by the modern aviation terminal.’

It is true that ideas that were once revolutionary have now been adopted, in debased form, as standard – victims of their own success. And that what was meant to be a celebration of manufacture has instead become an intense form of craft. But the movement certainly produced some great buildings – and doubtless a great exhibition. Time for us all to make our own minds up.

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