News Cyclists ride in central London where the proposed SkyCycle routes would be built

The proposed plans - designed to improve safety for cyclists - would cost over £200m

Foster heads capital project

The architect Sir Norman Foster yesterday won a competition to produce plans to make the tourist centre of London more "consumer-friendly". With a team of consultants, he will spend a year talking to everyone from tourists to taxi drivers who use some of the best-known parts of the capital.

French go slow over a bridge too far

Anyone from Britain who has driven the spectacular "alternative" route to the South of France, via Clermont-Ferrand, the Massif Central and the partially completed A75 motorway to Languedoc-Roussillon, had two reasons for rejoicing this summer. Plans for the last, key, section of the motorway - a viaduct to bypass the city of Millau - are in their final stages, and the contract for the project has been won by the British firm Foster and Partners.

Scents and sensuality

Whether photographing penises or pistils, Robert Mapplethorpe placed sexuality on a pedestal of almost sacramental significance. But what was he really trying to capture with his camera? Andrew Graham-Dixon looks beneath the surface images of the Hayward Gallery's retrospective, while, below, Serena Mackesy eavesdrops on public reactions to Wednesday's private view

Will Sir Norman Foster's building be the tallest in Europe, or just pie in the sky?

A 1,265ft kidney-shaped glass building which would be the tallest in Europe was unveiled yesterday as the architect Sir Norman Foster's vision for the bombed Baltic Exchange site in the City of London.

Public divided over futuristic V&A extension

The public is bitterly divided over whether the futuristic extension to the Victoria and Albert Museum should go ahead, the museum's own survey has discovered.

Creativity Bring me sunshine through your similes.

Spiral staircases (or "helicoidal risertreaders" as Maguy Higgs insists is the correct terminology) brought us a rush of ideas concerning helter-skelters, corkscrews for very large wine bottles or visual aids for explaining the DNA molecule. Mrs K O'Rourke thinks it would make a "lovely DNA double helix for the Cerne Giant. Then everyone would know how he originated." Ms Higgs, however, uses them as filing cabinets for circular letters.

Creativity: One for the woad after a pitch invasion at Euro 96 BC.

"This Euro 96 thing is taking up a whole month of the sporting calendar," Stuart Cockerill complains. "Wouldn't it be simpler to stick all 16 teams in the middle of Stonehenge, allocate each a pair of goalposts and leave them to get on with it for 90 minutes or so? The victorious manager could then preside over the ritual slaughter of the vanquished and we'd all be home before sunrise."

Creativity: Gut feelings about an exchange of paunches

Paunches, according to John Donnelly, are not what boxers throw in a Loyd Grossman commentary. He believes the true derivation of the term has something to do with a medieval husband and wife chat show called Paunch and Judy.

Whitehall's machinery needs an overhaul

Say Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee were contending for power instead of John Major and Tony Blair. How we'd laugh at the homburgs and the suits. Yet the machinery those old men would find on entering Whitehall would be instantly recognisable: the number and range of the departments and the committee grid that connects them are the administrative equivalent of a Forties valve radio.

Architecture: Street talk

"Good design not only matters but it pays... I never made the connection [as a schoolboy] that it was possible to be an architect and make a living as an architect."

Building cities of the imagination

Film-makers know the value of a good setting. Which explains their fascination with all things architectural.

Museum wins pounds 30m lottery grant for new roof

REBECCA FOWLER

Letter: Cardiff has been saved from an operatic folly

From Ms Liz Mahoney

Be listed, and be damned

Grade I, Grade II... but does making the Grade stunt our cities' growth? By Peter Popham

Arts 2000: out with the old, in with the new

A "NEW" CRYSTAL PALACE
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War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?