Life and Style Only 3.4 per cent of the Solihull area is covered by housing

It isn’t hard to find an architect who will tell you that vast swathes of the British urban landscape are ugly, grey and unappealing – nor would you struggle to find people who agreed with them. But could it be that the look and the layout of our cities is actually bad for our health?

No more noddy boxes! Design judges' dismay at British buildings

Excellence is now the exception, say experts on jury panel for top architectural award

Observations: Intelligent anarchy for the UK

The Venice Biennale is the Olympics of architecture. But it's not just about the profession's heroes this year – those architects picked by the architectural grandee, Sir David Chipperfield, to exhibit in the vast Arsenale at the end of August. At the British Pavilion's concurrent Venice Takeaway exhibition, the great game of architecture will be about intelligent anarchy.

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.

Architect Zaha Hadid

Olympics & sport: Hadid will go to the Palace (but not to her Aquatics Centre)

Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid, who recently complained about not being given a single ticket to watch the Olympic swimming in the Aquatics Centre she designed, will be able to content herself with a day out at the Palace.

Simon Kelner: I'm not ready for my life to get a digital de-cluttering

We can be forgiven for feeling confused. One minute we're being encouraged by various television programmes that, among the old rubbish we keep in the attic, we may have items we can turn into cash. And the next minute, we are being advised to de-clutter our lives, or more specifically our houses.

Olympic Velodrome leads race for gold medal in architecture

Apart from the Velodrome and a cultural centre in Derry, none of the shortlisted buildings set the heart, and mind, racing

Architect lashes out at 'suicide fees' used in bids

A leading British architect has lashed out against designers who are winning major building commissions by offering "suicide fees".

The Blagger's Guide To...Samuel Johnson

Ten pages of quotes, but none about oranges

Are Oak House's radical curves the shape of things to come?

Its design was tough to sell to the planning committee, but the results are striking

The Photography of Bedford Lemere & Co, By Nicholas Cooper

The self-assured structures of an empire at its height were the stock-in-trade of Bedford Lemere & Co, the architectural photographers, whose archive of 20,000 glass negatives is the source for this bitter-sweet glimpse of a vanished world.

The death of architecture

Unless you're a 'starchitect', chances are you'll end up creating mediocre glass-clad hangars, says Jay Merrick. Does the problem lie with the profession, or the politicians in charge of our towns and cities?

Bring your garden indoors all year round

Spring is here and our fancy turns to conservatories; they can add value and give much pleasure – but beware the pitfalls.

Seventies style: The decade that taste forgot produced a host of architectural gems

How would you like to live on a Seventies housing estate built on the outskirts of a sleepy dormitory town? The answer is likely to be a resounding "no" – but prepare to have your prejudices about the decade that brought us the avocado bathroom suite confounded.

Lucinda Lambton: Public WCs were once Britain's pride and glory

Unbelievably, the public WC is once again being relished as a work of architectural design rather than a mere convenience

Postgrad Queries: What are the best TEFL courses? Is it too late for me to study architecture?

I have recently returned to the UK after a year teaching English in Thailand on a voluntary basis. I would now like to take some form of TEFL course, with the intention of returning to Thailand and getting some paid work. But there are so many different courses advertised. Are they all of equal worth, or should I be limiting my search to those accredited by certain bodies? I have a degree and a PGCE.

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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn