DESIGN SPECIAL: In Case You Hadn't Noticed, the British Landscape Is Changing. Our Towns, Cities and Countryside Are Embracing Contemporary Architecture as Never before. but Which Is Britain's Most Exciting New Building? We Asked Leading Architects and Commentators for Their Views. Here Is What They Said
DANIEL LIBESKIND, ARCHITECT, NEW YORK
The London Eye (architect: Marks Barfield) (See picture 4) "Because it's inventive, light-hearted and effective in transforming the image of London."
ROWAN MOORE, DIRECTOR, THE ARCHITECTURE FOUNDATION
New Art Gallery Walsall (Caruso St John) (1)
"It does what art and architecture are supposed to do: it takes you out of yourself, and gives a new perception on your surroundings, all in an everyday English town. It is accessible but not condescending, inspiring but not histrionic."
CLIVE ASLET, EDITOR, `COUNTRY LIFE'
Bath Spa (Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners) (12)
"The new Bath Spa is a brilliantly imaginative, ultra- sophisticated building, which has revitalised both some exquisite Georgian buildings and Bath's tradition of `taking the waters'. I love the suspended stone cube which mirrors the form of John Wood's hot baths, and the rooftop pool has opened up a dramatic new vista of Bath Abbey."
ALICE RAWSTHORN, DIRECTOR, DESIGN MUSEUM, LONDON
Laban Dance Centre, Deptford, London (Herzog + De Meuron) (3). This is one of the buildings shortlisted for this year's Stirling Prize for Architecture. The winner is announced on 11 October
"Tate Modern may have made a bigger impact - not just because of its scale but because it symbolises the moment when the British learnt to love the modern - but, for me, Herzog + De Meuron's most compelling building in London is the Laban Dance Centre at Deptford Creek.
"This is a magical building: a perfect fusion of form and function. As a dance centre, the Laban must function seamlessly and so it does with beautifully sequenced studios. Formally, it is dazzling because the exterior cladding changes colour with the light. On a typically drizzly London day, it glows with gentle greens and pinks, then sparkles when the sun shines." f
EVA JIRICNA, ARCHITECT
Eden Project (Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners) (14)
"Nicholas Grimshaw's Eden Project is a building which, with its affordable, inflated plastic roof, stretches technology to its limits and is also perfect for the purpose."
KEVIN MCCLOUD, DESIGNER AND BROADCASTER
Jacob's Ladder house, Oxfordshire (Niall McLaughlin) (17)
"Choosing one building is like choosing one sweet from the mixed jar, but I knew that whatever I chose it would need to be a house. I spend my life talking about and promoting what makes good domestic architecture and there is only one new house I can think of in the whole country that takes my breath away - in the sense that I truly do hold my breath when I see it. It's Niall McLaughlin's house at Jacob's Ladder in Oxfordshire, for David and Shelley Grey.
"I love this house because it has on the one hand a profound ability to move me; it is poetic and full of soul. And yet, on the other, it is also a delicate and modest building that almost loses its identity among the trees of the wooded hill on which it sits. The site, a sloping hill overlooking the M40 in the distance, has a jaw-dropping view which the house uses to tease the visitor, but for once the architecture doesn't rely on the view for its impact.
"This is a house which would work almost as well in a valley or an open field, partly because its glass walls reflect its immediate surroundings making this an adaptive building, and partly because the interior spaces unfold in a very pleasing and subtly related way that provide, I think, a very enjoyable experience day-to-day. The design conveys thoughtfulness both inside and out.
"I can think of no other new house which is as poised and as beautiful, two words which I am not given to using much. The finely balanced combination of steel, timber and translucent, transparent and reflective glass; the response to the setting; the delightful interior; and the way light is manipulated throughout, all trumpet the fact that this building was conceived and built by a master of the art. …