LETTERS / Stop carping about Cardiff opera

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From Mr Francis Duffy Sir: The competition for the design of the new Cardiff Bay Opera House is in danger of turning into a model of exactly how "lottery"

architectural competitions ought not to be (letter, 12 December). Until the announcement of the winner, the competition had been brilliantly successful. Zaha Hadid, much admired internationally for her thoughtful and radical designs, has proposed a fine and serious building. She is ably supported by the world's premier firm of engineers. Like any winning competition scheme, what has been proposed is only a starting point and the design will be developed over the next few years. Nothing to worry about her, you might think.

Suddenly, cynically, after all the arduous work and careful assessment, public opinion is now evoked. There is a role for public participation in lottery projects - but at the time when decisions on the building brief are made. To pretend that real public consultation can take place after a design competition has been run and won is nonsense. It makes no more sense to ignore the competition result that it would be to re-run Wimbledon each year until at last a Briton won.

The people of Wales have the opportunity to build one of the landmarks of the new millennium. I hope the competition organisers have the wisdom to match their ambition and do not let this wonderful opportunity be destroyed by slick demagogy.

Yours faithfully, FRANCIS DUFFY President, Royal Institute of British Architecture London, W1

14 December