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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Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...