Will no design challenger for the Dome come forth?

I respect Clive Grinyer’s interpretation of the Dome (Letters, DW 14 January). Like him, all I wanted was an amazing day out. Perhaps I have seen too much because the Dome, in my eyes, is a failure when you consider its £758m budget.

It was always going to be a failure, ever since the NMEC issued that uninformed brief back in 1997 and refused to take a radical look at how to make the best of a message-based experience, while dealing with a large volume of visitors. Throughout, they used the principal of divide and rule to avoid challenges to their own lack of design experience.

Tony Blair called the Dome: ‘A monument to our creativity’. I think not. Take the subject of work. If you have ever seen Charlie Chaplin’s take on automation in Modern Times, been worried by Fritz Lang’s Metropolis or wondered about the misery behind a simple Lowry painting, you’ll know what creativity is.

I don’t think the likes of the Work Zone are in this class. Even the spectacular central show was lost in the Dome’s vast space and the entertaining exhibits, such as the Play Zone, couldn’t cope with the crowds.

The Dome gives rise to a number of questions. Firstly, is the 19th century exhibition medium dying? The NMEC might say that the Dome is not an exhibition, but I would say it is packed with inappropriate exhibits.

The public are media wise. TV, 747s and film have taken them on the ultimate journeys. Some museums can still work the magic and the blockbuster art shows still pull in the crowds. But do we have to be packed in like sardines to look at a Van Gogh?

Why has a champion from the design community not come forth to challenge the senior civil servants and national policy makers? Blackadder was the best thing at the Dome. Where is the Edmund Blackadder of the design community? Are designers forever to be cast as Baldricks?

Neal Potter FCSD


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