Windsor may get modern refurbishment

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The Independent Online
PETER BROOKE, the Secretary of State for National Heritage, yesterday opened the way for modern architecture to be used in restoring Windsor Castle.

Responding to the debate that has followed the fire at the castle, Mr Brooke said in a speech at the Royal Fine Arts Commission in London: 'Windsor Castle is at once a great national state building and the Queen's home. This important subtlety is occasionally lost in urgent clouds of comment but I hope that out of the fire, and the scar it has left, will emerge a reconstruction which commands widespread acceptance and a sense of national achievement.'

Sources at his department said that the carefully worded last phrase made clear that Mr Brooke was not determined to see a restoration of the castle to its exact look before the fire, but was open to the argument that the best of modern architects could help in the rebuilding.

After Mr Brooke's speech his under-secretary of state, Robert Key, said consideration should be given to 'state-of-the-art modern interiors'.

In his speech, Mr Brooke indicated that the new Department of National Heritage was likely to signal a greater government interest in architecture. He said he was commissioning from the Royal Fine Art Commission a series of studies on architectural themes 'with the aim of giving a wider audience guidance on what makes a good building'.

He was also commissioning from them a report on how to make sympathetic and practical use of heritage buildings, particularly of the 19th and 20th centuries, which are no longer suitable for their original purposes, with feasibility studies on how to adapt specific buildings to modern uses.

He added: 'Our role should not be confined to merely preserving, packaging and presenting the past. It is to make our massive inheritance work for our benefit now and to pass it on, vibrant and developed, to the future.

'There is much to be said for buildings which truly represent the age in which we now live . . . . The buildings we produce now are tomorrow's heritage.'

The Department of National Heritage will move next summer to new premises at 2-4 Cockspur Street, near Canada House in Trafalgar Square, Mr Brooke confirmed yesterday. Like the Department of the Environment recently, the Heritage Department has ruled out a move to Docklands, despite the need for regeneration in the area.