Architecture: 'Boys' Own' adventures in contemporary design

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THE SHIP-LIKE Western Morning News building in Plymouth (pictured right), the snaking international terminal at Waterloo, and last year's British pavilion at the Seville Expo are three of the most memorable new buildings erected anywhere in the world over the past two years, writes Jonathan Glancey.

All three buildings are the work of Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners, an English practice whose design inspiration has its roots in Joseph Paxton's Crystal Palace and the great bridges and railway termini of Victorian Britain.

A major exhibition of Grimshaw's work - 'Structure, Skin and Space' opened yesterday at the London headquarters of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Grimshaw and his team are concerned that their ideas and buildings should be readily accessible to a public shy of the abstract representation of architecture. Delightful Boys' Own models explain their design adventures with greater clarity than any number of plans, cross-sections and axonometrics.

The exhibition includes full-sized details from Grimshaw buildings of the past five years, impressive photography and, above all, a golden opportunity to get to grips with the design of the new Channel tunnel terminal at Waterloo well before the first streamlined train departs. This is an architectural exhibition that deserves to be popular.

Structure, Skin and Space: The Work of Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners, 1988-93, until 29 May, Royal Institute of British Architects, 66 Portland Place, London W1 (071-580 5533).

(Photograph omitted)