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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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.

Designed to last: an E-Type Jaguar

British postwar design: Immaculate conceptions

An ambitious survey of British postwar design shows just how much today's artists and architects owe to their innovative forebears

Jerwood Gallery: A new battle of Hastings

The glimmering darkness of the building's facades may give the new Jerwood Gallery in Hastings a faintly disappointing air of mute architectural stealth. Its form – a dark podium facing Rock-a-Nore Road, from which an oblong first storey rises on the beach side – doesn't signal the building's purpose. But the inside story is something else entirely.

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BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

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Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
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In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
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Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
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