Architecture: Annexe

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A carbuncle for Moscow?

THIS morning the Queen will unveil a commemorative stone on the site of the controversial future British embassy in Moscow, which has been under discussion for more than a decade. Now, however, the proposed 15,000 sq metre embassy on the Smolenskaya Embankment near the White House and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has been redesigned by Ahrends Burton and Koralek - responsible for the National Gallery 'carbuncle' in London - to reflect changed circumstances in Russia.

While there is no longer such a need for the sophisticated surveillance equipment that was part of the original design, the office accommodation in the revised scheme has been greatly increased. It now includes a large commercial section, a 100-seat conference hall and a visa department. The visa section in the existing Moscow embassy, which issues up to 500 visas a day, has standing space in its waiting area for only 20 people. Increasing violence on Moscow's streets coupled with high rents have increased demand for residential accommodation for embassy staff; there will now be 31 flats with river views.

Richard Burton of ABK says that the design will produce 'a strong, but not intimidating symbol of a British presence in Moscow and will be fronted by a garden to Smolenskaya, a planning gain for Moscow'.

Britain will retain the present embassy building - now listed - which will continue to serve as the ambassador's house and further dwelling space for officials and their families.

Missing in Wales TRADITIONAL Welsh buildings are under threat from demolition, insensitive conversion or neglect, say Welsh conservationists. Ken Moore, chairman of the Carmarthenshire and Llanelli Historic Buildings Trust, who organised this week's 'Traditional Welsh Buildings in Crisis' conference, argues that 'Wales is 20 years behind England and Scotland'.

Property owners and local authorities, he says, show little awareness of the relationship between old buildings and the countryside. Few local authorities employ conservation officers. Mr Moore believes that many traditional Welsh buildings are neglected because they fit in with the landscape and are rarely imposing. Separate criteria, says Mr Moore, are needed to assess their architectural importance.

Great chemistry A PHARMACY in Craiglogan, Edinburgh, has beaten the city's much praised new Festival Theatre and FruitMarket Gallery to win this year's Regeneration Design Award, one of Scotland's most important architectural prizes.

The architects of the pharmacy, Dignan Read Dewar, extended an end-of-terrace shop with a spectacular glass bay window. The judges said it was 'a work refined in its thinking and of superlative quality'.

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