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
Life and Style
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Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
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Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
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Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
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Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
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Cameron Jerome
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine