Jay Merrick

Jay Merrick is Architecture Critic of The Independent. His novel, Horse Latitudes, was published by Fourth Estate in 2000.

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Starchitect’s Maze peace centre forgot the Irish

There are two things about Daniel Libeskind’s design for the peace centre on the Maze prison site that are disappointing. The first is that the design language is unremarkable. This is yet another Libeskind signature building, a generically shattered architecture that, in this case, expresses loss, violence and a degree of reconciliation. But the design is not inherently different to Berlin’s Jewish Museum, which made Libeskind a starchitect, or his Las Vegas buildings.

Norman Foster's interest in art surfaced quite early on

The arty side of Norman Foster in France

The world's most famous architect, Norman Foster, 77, designed the Carré d'Art in Nîmes, France, more than 20 years ago. Now he's about to curate his first art show in it, largely made up of works by the artists he collects.

How to Read a Graveyard, By Peter Stanford

Poetic and humane, this tour of resting-places turns the mind to last things, and to first principles.

St James's Gateway building is London's newest startling building

A new prospect for Piccadilly: St James's Gateway building is London's newest startling building

Eric Parry is a highly cultured member of the establishment. Cambridge education, member of the Royal Academy, and regarded as one of Britain's finest architects. Why, then, do the double-storey windows in his revamped building in London's Piccadilly appear to be spattered with blood? And, in a designated Conservation Area, why are the colours and syncopations of Richard Deacon's cornice wilder than Rio Carnival?

The Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona

What makes a cult building?

Every city in the world is commissioning architects to design iconic architecture – a production line of ever flashier-looking objects of grim bread-and-circuses banality. Why does it takes a tramp-like Catalonian vegetarian, and a young Italian with Mussolini on his mind to remind us that architecture – really engrossing architecture – is worthy of cult worship.

A night with Andy Warhol: Oslo hotel The Thief takes art very seriously indeed

Antony Gormley greets you at the entrance and Julian Opie's in the lift… Jay Merrick checks in to the new hotel in the Norwegian capital.

The monument of Walter Scott in Glasgow's George Square

Robert Burns is the topic of heated debate in Glasgow's George Square

This week, Glasgow City Council put six eminent teams of architects through the ringer by asking them a single, highly fraught question: how would they transform George Square into a public space fit for the 21st century?

Photography: Master builders

In Timothy Soar's monochrome portrait, the face of the architect Sean Griffiths, co-principal of the cool FAT practice, carries a look of chippy disdain.

Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer looks at drawings for a project of two cities in Senegal, Africa in 1992. He was one of the world's most famous architects, and is particularly beloved in Brazil

Oscar Niemeyer: The last of the 20th century’s great heroes of architecture, who remained an obdurate outsider

He possessed a Matisse-like ability to convey potent shape and movement with few marks

Why We Build, By Rowan Moore. Picador, £20

At school, Rowan Moore would have been the standoffish boy whose demeanour conveyed distracted impatience, but who then asked a very good question. This intelligent and cultured book has those qualities. Why We Build is a humanist's plea for architecture founded – to borrow Paul Simon's lyric – on the "incidents and accidents" of lives and places, rather than on marketing scripts or architectural heroism.

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