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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Observations: Intelligent anarchy for the UK

The Venice Biennale is the Olympics of architecture. But it's not just about the profession's heroes this year – those architects picked by the architectural grandee, Sir David Chipperfield, to exhibit in the vast Arsenale at the end of August. At the British Pavilion's concurrent Venice Takeaway exhibition, the great game of architecture will be about intelligent anarchy.

Architecture: The £500m first step to 'Spaceship Earth'

British architects have just delivered a £500m mega-project in Singapore that may change the default perception of the city whose obsession with panoptic civic order, and financial services, has reportedly made one in six of its residents a dollar millionaire in terms of immediately disposable cash. The Bay South Garden conservatories are the centrepiece of the development, and their two gleaming glass biomes, designed by Chris Wilkinson, feature the world's largest glazed gridshell, a doubly curved grid-like structure.

How England Made the English: From Hedgerows to Heathrow, By Harry Mount and A New Kind of Bleak: Journeys through Urban Britain, By Owen Hatherley

Critics from both ends of the political spectrum inspect the damage done to our urban fabric

Architect and TV presenter Kevin McCloud

Architecture's Oscars: Kevin McCloud and Alain de Botton could be shortlisted for Stirling Prize after Riba success

Today, Kevin McCloud and Alain de Botton are positively pink-cheeked with pride. Buildings commissioned by the prickle-quiffed Grand Designer and Britain's favourite philosopher have just won national awards from the Royal Institute of British Architects - and their projects could be shortlisted for the profession's Oscar, the Stirling Prize.

The Photographers' Gallery: A building that extols the calm virtues of still life

The new Photographers' Gallery reframes how we view images

Hole truth: An artist's impressions of the forthcoming Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in Hyde Park, London

Memories of the far pavilions: A sneak preview of this year's offbeat addition to Hyde Park

Can a large, cork-lined hole in the ground in London's Hyde Park – with a steel disc floating above it, mind – be architecture? It can if it's designed by Herzog & de Meuron, and Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist considered a threat to cultural order by his country's political apparatchiks.

Observations: Outdoor performers to use their own shell-likes

Jason Flanagan, one-time employee of Norman Foster, and who is now a director of BFLS Architects, has just rolled out the prototype of Soundforms, a sophisticated, shell-like, soundstage, whose components can be set up in a few hours.

To Forgive Design, Understanding Failure, By Henry Petroski

A sprawling study of structural flaws which reveals the fine line between history's successes and failures

Maidstone Museum and Bentlif Art Gallery's new extension designed by Hugh Broughton

Maidstone Museum and Bentlif Art Gallery's new extension is a modern classic

What on earth is that goldy-looking thing in the middle of Maidstone, that supersized Benson & Hedges fag packet pretending to be a building? Ah, it must be one of those World-Class Places that the government is promoting – as in "iconic" architecture. Not so. The new extension of Maidstone Museum and Bentlif Art Gallery, designed by Hugh Broughton, is a counter-blow to the government's witless, developer-friendly assumption that places, and lives, can be transformed by blinged-up buildings marketed as world class.

Enzo Ferrari Museum

The fast show: Italy's Enzo Ferrari Museum is a fitting memorial to its maverick creator

Jan Kaplicky knew how to fail, brilliantly, better than any other architect in the 21st century. The practice that he and Amanda Levete ran in London's swish Holland Park was called Future Systems, and it became famous for losing architectural competitions with building designs that ranged from gleaming amoebas to towering, ribbed condoms. Even so, they delivered two of Britain's most extrovert buildings, the periscopic Lord's Media Centre, and the glittering supersized basque known as Birmingham's Selfridges.

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