Back issue for magazine - Architectural Review 2011/7 (1373)

Architectural Review 2011/7 (1373) This issue looks at five new buildings for culture, all grappling with different sites, programmes and contexts, but all trying to bring their subjects to life, from Barbara Hepworth sculptures to Basque gravestones. As the notion of what constitutes culture becomes more diffuse in the multimedia age, how do architects respond to the important issue of how to preserve its high and low moments? The profession has always done well out of culture, cosying up to directors and curators, and churning out ‘iconic’ galleries, museums, theatres and opera houses. The last 20 years have been especially profitable, since the Bilbao Guggenheim made culture a transformational panacea for cities with guts and ambition. Yet for all its architectural pyrotechnics, Bilbao still has the feel of an international franchise, a foreign spectacle curiously disconnected from local life. How is it possible to give the potency of spectacle its due, but also cultivate a sense of civitas, of rootedness to place and the particular? The AR has long argued that museums and galleries should not just be isolated art objects. Rather they should be able to connect with the larger civic life from which they emerge and which sustains them. As we look back on the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain, though its architectural impact has receded, it is still notable for the wider civilising effect it had on London’s South Bank, bringing a neglected piece of city back into public use. In 60 years’ time, will the same spirit of civic generosity still emanate from 
the buildings in this issue?

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