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05May94 UK: DON'T DISCARD CREATIVITY - END TO 'GOLD-PLATING' OF OFFICES.

The British Council of Offices - which sounds like an organisation which would be worth inventing, were it not to exist already - has published a report calling for an end to the 'gold-plating' of offices.A panel of experts has determined that 10 per cent can be shaved off the cost of office buildings if the over-specifying of the late 1980s is avoided.Out go the marble trimmings, the infinitely-adjustable air conditioning, the ability to partition, re-partition and un-partition, and unnecessary structural loadings. In comes a perfectly serviceable modern building, built with practicality in mind.All of this is, of course, deeply sensible - and further evidence that the construction industry clients of the 1990s have their heads screwed on in a way that those of the 1980s sometimes appeared not to. But there is also something a little worrying.It is, after all, but two short steps from practicality to functionality to austerity, and the world is still full of austere buildings put up in the 1950s and 1960s. One of the joys of European cities compared with those in the US, say, is architectural diversity.Throw out the gold taps and the reception area fountain by all means. But let's be sure we're not throwing construction creativity out at the same time. CONSTRUCTION NEWS