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Architecture in the 20th Century

Duration:
30 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 25 March 1999

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the rise in so-called spectacular architecture at the end of the 20th century. Is architecture to do with what we live in, where it’s located, the buildings that accommodate at best so much more than a few private bodies, or is it the spectacular, even show-off, extravagance, even fantasy, of architects - or is it engineers who see the huge swash of public money as an opportunity to plant a place in posterity?

Daniel Libeskind has been heralded as one of the greatest architects of his generation and of the latter half of the 20th century. He is the architect of some spectacular buildings - two of which are the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the highly controversial Spiral Extension to London’s own Victoria and Albert Museum, which his critics have described as looking like imploding cardboard boxes.

But why are we witnessing at the end of the century a sudden glut of spectacular buildings, such as Libeskind’s? What do they say about the state of contemporary architecture? And do they show a blatant disregard for history? Is it merely‘the architecture of excess in a world of diminishing resources, a chic counterpoint at the end of the 20th century’?

With Daniel Libeskind architect of the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the Spiral Extension to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum; Richard Weston, architect and lecturer at De Montfort University.

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