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    London Biennial

    by Jo Baker

    Though known globally for the breadth of its historic architecture, London is striving for contemporary credentials. In the city's recent architecture biennale, part of the United Kingdom-wide celebration called "Architecture Week," organizers brought the changing city fabric to world attention. New quirky landmarks have been popping up all over London, their design exalted, their creators knighted.

    And with this mini renaissance of architecture has come a host of questions. What kind of skyline do Londoners want? What does the city need to make it "better"? Who should have the final say? These issues were tackled during the London Architecture Biennale in a vast array of talks, walks, installations, films, and even bike tours.

    Vocal British MP Boris Johnson had been invited to chair one of the event's Big Breakfast discussions. He had kicked off the debate before the week officially began by airing what The Observer newspaper coined his "gamut of grievances."

    Johnson had soundly damned modern planning regulations, "pastiche classicism," and the excessive red tape surrounding the use of solar panels. By the time of his speech, breakfast tickets had sold unsurprisingly fast. Architecture groupies were then rewarded with a lively debate over coffee and croissants as Johnson defended his call for the revival of ancient Greek traditions.   >>>

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    30 St. Mary Axe, by Norman Foster, soars above the London skyline.
    Photo: London Architecture Biennale

    ArchWeek Image

    Balloons make festive the London streets during the city's second annual Architecture Biennale.
    Photo: David Levene

     

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