LETTERS:Welsh verdict on opera design

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The Independent Online
Sir: The architectural competition process for choosing a new opera house for Cardiff Bay is not proving to be a farce, and the people of Wales are not so visually illiterate as your architectural critic portrays them ("Grand Welsh opera descends into farce", 30 November). The brief envisages public consultation. It is to the credit of Associated British Ports, the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation and Grosvenor Waterside that they have sponsored a superb and informative exhibition in Cardiff, other parts of Wales and London.

The verdict of the exhibition is clear: the Welsh public objects to the Hadid design. As one Cardiff architect puts it: It is entirely out of scale and out of character with its surroundings: its form and materials are unsympathetic and inappropriate

Even the assessors expressed reservations on grounds of micro-climate, costs and functional issues which would require further evaluation.

The assessors have, however, discovered two designs of quality - those of Foster and Hasegawa - and one that is brilliant - Nicoletti's. Nicoletti's design envisages a crystal wave shell which is complex yet with an underlying simplicity of concept. The people of South Wales are recognising this as elegant and truly beautiful. No one in the debate so far has had the temerity to apply the word "beautiful" to the Hadid building.

A fundamental condition for millennium funding - crucial to the building of the opera house - is that the project shall have public support. It is becoming clearer that this condition can only be met by the Nicoletti design. This is not farce: it is creativity in action.

Yours faithfully, EWART PARKINSON Cardiff The writer is a former president of the Royal Town Planning Institute.

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