Diary

Plymouth and Dubai are not often mistaken for one another, but according to the owners of the world's only seven-star hotel this could all change with the regeneration of Millbay.

The owners of the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai are concerned that concept designs for Plymouth's Clyde Quay waterfront hotel are too similar to its billowing sail. Clyde Quay forms part of a £350 million regeneration scheme that secured outline planning permission this summer (Planning, 31 August, p16).

Solicitors for Burj Al Arab have asked English Cities Fund (ECF) to "politely reconsider" its Millbay plans. But ECF project manager Howard Morris denies that Clyde Quay copied the Burj Al Arab. "They are completely different," he insists.

Detailed designs for Clyde Quay are due to be submitted for reserved matters approval in the spring. The possibility of future legal proceedings, however polite, is not putting off ECF. Morris says that everyone will just have to wait and see if the final designs match the original concepts.

The symbolic relationship between architecture and private capital was explored at a symposium on tall buildings last week.

University of Manchester school of environment and development reader Maria Kaika claims that tall buildings are no longer monuments to tycoons such as the Rockefellers and Carnegies. Instead, the architect's ego now takes centre stage.

Kaika argues that companies no more see cities as spaces for their personal glorification. Rather than adopting a social role in helping philanthropists, she believes that architects perceive themselves as artists with "a narcissistic ego as strong as ever".

Footloose corporations in our age of globalisation no longer feel that they need to show how big they are, she notes. She adds that the multinational Swiss Re sold London's Gherkin at a profit of about £100 million soon after it was completed, leaving "an empty signifier in search of meaning".

Climate campaigner and former US vice-president Al Gore has been awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize for raising awareness of global warming. Gore, who shares the award with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is cited by the Nobel committee as "probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted".

But Gore's triumph is overshadowed by a High Court ruling days earlier that his film on climate change, An Inconvenient Truth, has nine scientific errors. Mr Justice Barton said Gore's film is broadly accurate but criticised it for some "alarmist" claims. The film must now only be shown to schoolchildren with guidance notes.

The Wildlife Trusts have developed an eye-catching way of gathering petition signatures to support their campaign for a marine bill.

Tens of thousands of people, including more than 100 MPs, have pledged their support by signing scales and attaching them to giant cut-outs of fish. The shoal, which represents fish found in UK waters, was displayed at the House of Commons last week. This week it was set to be delivered to Number Ten.


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