“It’s the place you go to buy a bedspread,” says Foreign Office Architects partner Farshid Moussavi, explaining why this John Lewis department store in Leicester is wrapped in patterned fabric.
You have to use your imagination, but in a few months this stark serpentine structure will be sheathed in a canopy of foliage and wild flowers.
When the Twin Towers were completed in 1973, the oil crisis of that year rendered them seemingly impotent. The skyscraper ceased to be a symbol of power and business efficiency and became one of waste.
The world has changed dramatically since the last great "ism" was codified almost a century ago. The social and economic conditions that inspired first artists, then architects and designers, to break with the past and propose a radical agenda for change now no longer exist in the West.
If this is the state of the art, then it is a dispiriting picture. If there is one thing revealing about the sprawling, relentless exhibition that is the 2004 Venice architecture biennale, it is that a new architectural orthodoxy has emerged with such speed that it has exhausted itself within a few years of its inception.
"Suddenly we think our lives are going to be different," exclaims Farshid Moussavi with genuine excitement. "There is a Sainsbury's opening nearby, just around the corner. And a Starbucks." Alejandro Zaera Polo, her husband and partner in foreign office architects, smiles in amused agreement.