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Last week John Gummer, on behalf of the Department of the Environment, announced plans for a competition that will lead to the long-awaited demolition of the DoE's three famously grim Sixties office towers at Westminster (Eric Bedford, with Robert Atkinson and Partners, 1963-71) and their replacement by a high-density, mixed-use development of offices, shops, flats and public spaces. While certain influences bearing on Mr Gummer might see this as an ideal opportunity to recreate a vibrant patch of long-since demolished Georgian London, others look forward to seeing the site transformed into a showcase of modern talent. Aside from selling homes for votes, the City of Westminster is well known for taking every possible opportunity to litter its streets with intrusive and banal "heritage" design, from the facades of buildings to benches and street-lamps. It has even provided Regent Street with Victorian-style traffic lights, even though these devices did not exist in the days of hansom cabs and policemen with capes and walrus moustaches. "The danger," says Owen Luder, president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, is that "the Government may not take on board any new and innovative ideas or will fall into the trap of a pick-and-mix compromise; it must not squander this fabulous opportunity for London." We will see.

Excellent modern public lavatories are few and far between (as if architects and their clients were embarrassed by them); but, the search is on, sponsored by Cannon Hygiene and the British Tourist Authority for the "Loo of the Year". Nominations should be faxed immediately to 01962 870220 or posted to PO Box 84, Hindhead, Surrey GU26 6YY.

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