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Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1971–77, Piano & Rogers. Photograph: Robert Young

We’re constantly told flexibility is the answer. Through its potent magic, buildings can adapt to changing work patterns, accommodate new technologies, convert to entirely different functions. Growing and altering as society’s needs change, they can live forever. Certainly, architects plaster the term eagerly over their websites, proclaiming that, through their unique mastery of this mighty art, they can deliver sustainability, agility, innovation, beauty and more.

Flexibility has held this elevated status in Western architecture since the demise of the load-bearing wall. Probably before. …


John Jervis


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