Right of Reply

The winner of the Jane Drew prize answers the charge that it has no real validity in rewarding designers
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The Independent Culture
NONIE NIESEWAND'S article about the Jane Drew prize was counterproductive and lacking in humanity. This award was set up to commemorate Jane Drew's role as a catalyst in 20th century architecture, and to give recognition to designers who illustrate innovation, demonstrate diversity, extend traditional architectural categories, and engage in collaborative work.

I am honoured to have been the winner of this award as, I am sure, were the others who were shortlisted - FAT, Martin Richman, and Jane Priestman. I feel Ms Niesewand's article was aimed at tearing us down in order to promote other designers. But why? There are many good designers, each working in their specific fields, enriching diversity in the architectural debate.

Should designers be required to become what Ms Niesewand calls "performing artists"? Is the example of Daniel Libeskind she gives - being out each week of the year, drumming up support for his building - a desired or viable option?

Of course our schemes must be explained to occupants and users, but does this have to be spelt out to assembled crowds in predetermined "acceptable" formats?

Does that really have to be the designer's role, and is this the best use of their time? What of the designers who do not present their work well, and who are not public speakers? Are they to be disregarded?

None of this talks about the work itself, which is the real issue: the content, thinking, the texture and complexity. Debate on design should have a constructive role of evolving our thinking. I believe that this is what the Jane Drew prize hopes to achieve - enlarging the debate.

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