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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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.

Glass act: the Astrup Fearnley Museum in Oslo

London's got the Shard – Oslo has the Comb-over

Renzo Piano has made his mark in the Norwegian capital

Until the virtues of sport are accepted in our state education system, opening up private school playing fields won't make the tiniest difference

Our Architecture Critic responds to a familiar call from an outgoing Olympic chief

Beyond bricks and mortar: Zaha Hadid's latest structure is impressive but already seems dated

Zaha Hadid's latest building has just opened in Montpellier, France. It's 200m long, weighs 80,000 tonnes, and resembles the superstructure of a vast, avant-garde cruise liner. The building took a million man-hours to build and cost more than €140m. But what's really interesting about it are the words that made it happen. And the fact that this new building, originally designed in 2004, looks automatically dated, compared to the much more organic designs that Hadid (inset) is now pursuing.

Banging techno architecture? It’s all happening in Venice

As the Olympics of architecture opens in Italy, Jay Merrick surveys the unexpected

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Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor