Reply To: critical Irish architectural journalism

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Thanks, Shane, for a bit of balanced writing on the subject of irish architecture!

However, what do you mean by ‘social dialogue’ – dialogue between people, or dialogue about society? It’s not clear, and it certainly isn’t provided by at least one of your models of journalism – Glancy in the Guardian – unfortunately I don’t know the others, as I don’t live in London, and I refuse to read a paper printed by the Sun’s owner.

Glancy rarely critises anything. Since architectural forms today provide press-releases, many journalists and ‘critics’ just recycle them, and they also seem engaged in a war to promote ‘modernism’, a battle won (or lost?) many years ago. Frankly I find most of the gush they spew out very embarrassing and trite, but then they have to make a living, and usually haven’t time to really think about things, and it shows.

However, we do need intelligent interchanges about what we feel on these issues form the city to interior design In fact the number of really good commentators, like the number of really good buildings, is very small. I submit that what is good is usually in books or finds its way into book form, but then architects don’t read much, though they buy books and leave them unread, as you may discover!

As in any other field, authority is earned, and in architecture with its bias towards Renaissance-style visuality, real authority in architecture is often passed over. I have already suggested to the organiser of this Forum that a book section be established, and in principle I think that he agrees.

To emphasise my point, just look at the scrappy reviews of books in the Architectural Review today! Anyway, who said thinking was easy?! Our problems are not just architectural, they stem from our whole culture, and it is because of our unexamined utopian consciousness that we take so many things so seriously – things which architecture cannot solve!

James McQuillan
Archt. & Historian

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