When I started training I thought I wanted to be an architect, but soon realised that I was actually more interested in writing about architecture and things that were happening in architecture. I started training at the, what was the Royal West of England Academy School of Architecture in Bristol. While I was there it turned into the Bristol University Department of Architecture. There was a new head of school, Professor Douglas Jones who moved from Birmingham, who had a very scientific approach to architecture, which was at variance with a lot of the views of the architects who had been introduced to the school when it had a more art school bias. So Douglas Jones banned life drawing classes, history classes, and we all had to learn ALGOL and computer programming and things like that. And this caused quite a lot of friction amongst the students.
So a group of us got together. We were in second year then, and we did all sorts of slightly disruptive things, of which I remember one of the most high profile was we joined up with the Anti-Ugly Campaign, which at the time was being driven in London by the Regent Street Polytechnic. And we had a vote amongst university students for the ugliest building in Bristol. The building that won was the Robinson Tower, which had just been completed, which actually looking back wasn't a bad building, but it won the student vote by a mile. That was probably because it was a tall building, a debate which has been part of my professional life ever since, really: tall buildings. And so we actually burnt an effigy of the Robinson building, much to the annoyance of some of the more senior students at the RWA at the time. And there was a pitch battle at the top of Park Hill, between fifth year students who supported the Robinson building, and second year students who were trying to burn it.
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