Something you should try at home

Need an architect? Now's the moment. By Hester Lacey
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The Independent Culture
Love that minimalist new bar in town; hate the dreary contours of your ancient eyesore of an office block; wish your local town planners hadn't ripped down those lovely old houses to stick up a supermarket? If any of this strikes a chord with you, then you may be more interested in architecture than you think.

Architecture Week, which runs until next Sunday, aims to encourage people to think about the built environment round them, and there are more than 300 events running across the country. The organisers are especially keen to get feedback from the public, with events such as Love Architecture, which includes the first nationwide poll of views on architecture.

Highlights of the week include the "Architect in the House" scheme, where, for a minimum donation of pounds 10 which will go to the charity Shelter, an architect will visit your home and advise on ways to alter or improve it. More than 1,200 practices nationwide are taking part (details: 0171 307 3630).

Under the "Open Practice" initiative, some practices are also inviting members of the public into their offices to show exactly what they do and explain how drawings, models and computer-aided design see a project through from beginning to end. A series of lectures from "starchitects" such as Eva Jiricna, Zaha Hadid, Tony Fretton and Chris Wilkinson will be held throughout the week. Where possible, the starchitects will be talking about recent projects from within the buildings themselves. And on Thursday afternoon between 4pm and 5pm the Architecture Week On- Line Party will be welcoming top architects such as Piers Gough, Erick van Egeraat, Sean Griffiths, and Jacques Herzog to share ideas and chat live; questions can be e-mailed in advance via the website or posted live on the day (www.newsunlimited.co.uk/ archweek).

For children, Architecture Week for Schools is being held at Legoland Windsor. From tomorrow children will be spending special days at Legoland, with quizzes, trails and workshops to encourage pupils' interest in design.

Radio 3 is also joining in; throughout the week, at 9.30pm on Night Waves, contemporary architects will be invited to nominate their choice of the most innovative, intriguing and influential building of the century. These range from internationally acclaimed classics to the little-known and unacknowledged; architects taking part include Will Alsop and Terry Farrell.

As well as these events, there are lectures, exhibitions, bookshop talks and special public openings of buildings all over the country.

Architecture Week: for full details call 09068 881190; website: www.archweek.co.uk; email: archweek@artscouncil.org.uk.

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