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?

Architecture: The architectural legacy of Stephen Lawrence

The search is on for the winner of the James Stirling prize and a new award in memory of Stephen Lawrence is announced. By Nonie Niesewand

Property: Why a bad job can give you a shock

Having faith in your workmen is all well and good, but sometimes it is misplaced, as Clare and Audrey found to their horror. Penny Jackson finds out why

Architecture: Triumph of the pod people

In the autumn, Future Systems' 'techno-organic' media centre goes up at Lord's cricket ground. Before then, you can see their curious work at the ICA.

LAW REPORT: Unregistered architect could not use `FRIBA'

19 march 1998: Jones v Hellard; Queen's Bench Divisional Court (Lord Justice Pill and Mr Justice Gage) 6 March 1998

Oil change for the British living room

Excuse me while I slip into something more uncomfortable - an intense spatial experience, in fact

Letter: Price of Green Belt

Sir: There is no doubt that the development of "brown land", including underused or empty property, should be encouraged ("How to save the green grass of home", 14 January). It not only reduces encroachment into the Green Belts, but enables the existing urban infrastructure to be used to its maximum potential, avoiding the costs of new schools, roads, clinics and so on.

Letter: On the road

Sir: Nigel Seymer and Carlton Reid (Letters, 10 January) take me to task over my suggestion (8 January) that vehicles capable of zero emissions will reduce congestion. The reasoning is that when such vehicles are on stream it will be feasible for towns and cities to exclude all but zero-emission vehicles from their centres. This could happen now, but with city centres in a fight to the finish with out-of-town megacentres, a zero-emissions policy could be a step too far.

People: London rains on Caprice's parade

Picture the scene. Two likely lads are planning an audacious robbery at the Cartier workshop on New Bond Street (and speaking in dodgy Cockney accents purely for comic effect).

Architecture: National Architecture Week begins today...

An Arts Council and Royal British Institute of Architects initiative, of over 150 events, will take place around the country.

Architecture: The smartest walk-in cupboard in Paris

A tiny apartment which uses new technology to utilise small spaces has been shortlisted for a major prize. Nonie Niesewand explores the revolutionary rooftop

Letter: Green buildings

ir: Whilst I subscribe to the diagnosis of our environmental problems outlined by Charles Secrett (letter, 11 October) I feel he is being hard on a government which has hardly had a chance to penetrate the inner workings of the mind of "Sir Humphrey." We should not underestimate the scale of the commitment by Tony Blair to cut emissions of carbon dioxide by 20 per cent against 1990 levels by 2010.

Architecture: How the need for a dining room becomes a triumph for the spirit of enlightenment

Here are three projects to lift the spirits, particularly spirits trapped in the houses they already occupy: a glass dining room, an extension that takes a house's inside outside and, perhaps most pleasing of all, an idea that turns a bland basement window into a work of art. Not simply a matter of let there be light; also let there be excitement. Nonie Niesewand talks to the architects on site.

The pick of British architecture now

Stirling prize

Will Norman Foster and Anthony Caro cross the Thames in a blaze of glory?

The Millennium Bridge, from St Paul's to the Tate at Bankside, would be a wondrous sight and a wondrous walk. It would also be the first Norman Foster work to have a dramatic presence in London.

The house that Jack built. And Jill, and Fred, and...

...anyone else who wants to avoid the profiteering developers and their mock-Georgian estates. Felicity Cannell on the pleasures of self- build
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Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
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The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
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Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
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Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
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An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
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NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own