The article on “new urbanism” (26 November, page 41) pitted two extreme and opposing views of architects. On the one hand, we are asked to believe that a bunch of icon-obsessed egos is working in the interests of self-promotion rather than for the benefit of our towns and cities; on the other that a group of thoughtful, context-minded urbanists is modestly practising the human-scale designs that people actually want.
The truth is that rather than choosing one group or the other, we need both. If ”design codes” are to be useful tools in the war against mediocrity, they need to allow for the bold statement that thumbs its nose at everything else. The must also accommodate what might be called “the architecture of everyday” – the more polite, contextual and well-mannered design of the street’s repetitive elements.
Since a code is only as good as the cryptographer who devises it, the focus should surely switch from architects to the qualities and training of those who write urban codes on behalf of the public. An urban code that lacked latitude for experiment would be a recipe for uninspiring places.
Laurie Chetwood, chairman, Chetwood Associates