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12 April 2021

In 1966 the architect Peter Smithson published a book about Bath called Walks within the Walls. This in itself is a shock because he was a brutalist architect par excellence and who knew that he adored, revered even, the buildings of Bath? It's so odd that he and his wife Alison Smithson apparently had an 'obsession with historic architecture' (to quote Albert Hill in a piece about the book on the new Inigo website here) but then designed buildings which are very hard to love. Apologies for this negativity, but when their son Simon refers to his father uncovering 'the sheer genius of those who sculpted Bath' of course we agree. Obviously pastiche is frightful but there is such a thing as acknowledging gracefully, and this the Smithsons' buildings did not do. It's a conundrum. Maybe a week of Peter Smithson's vision of Bath will conclude with Persephone readers loving his buildings? It's possible. "This is architecture" he writes about Sydney Place, swooning at the "sweeping of the suites of horizontal mouldings"' Indeed.

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