High-Street Classics: The 8th Antigone Competition

Bring Back Beautiful

As summer is now well under way, we had better to get round to announcing our new Antigone competition. And this eighth instalment is on a new theme for us: architecture! Or rather, for those of us who have received no formal training in architecture: art and imagination brought to bear on the modern world eveywhere around us.

When the House of Commons, the home of the British Parliament and heart of the country’s wartime resolve, was bombed in May 1941, the prime minister Sir Winston Churchill announced that it would not be rebuilt with a new design for a new era. Instead, it would be reconstructed precisely and exactly as it had been. As he famously explained to his fellow MPs, “We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us.”[1] Convinced by the belief that more beautiful buildings (however defined) have a positive and lasting effect on people and society, one that goes far beyond mere aesthetic pleasure, we would like to test how our readers respond to this fresh challenge.

The task is simple in character, but truly massive in potential. What we would like you to do is to take a building of your choice that stands in the commercial area of a city, either a chain retail store or a chain fast food outlet, which you think is unattractive. (Ideally this would not be one of those huge, out-of-town box buildings that supermarkets and retail parks tend to favour, as they are beyond all saving.) Your job is to modify that building using Classical elements, drawn from the Ancient Greek and/or Roman worlds, and to offer a design that you think is much more beautiful. This can be hand-drawn or computer-created; please don’t delegate the task to the various new-fangled AI art bots, whose genius we do not recognise.

You have to work within some limitations, of course: the building needs to occupy the same footprint (area) on the ground; it needs to incorporate the logo of the store and have a serviceable entrance for public customers; and, well, it has to look as though humans could construct it in the 21st century. The very best entries will show how it only takes a small amount of vision and pride to build more beautiful shops.

You need to send us three things, then, by Monday 18 September:

  • A picture (taken by you or found on the internet) of the chain store or fast food outlet that you are redesigning, with information about its location in the world. (It doesn’t have to be located where you are.)
  • Your ‘Classicised’ version of that building, as a digital image file.
  • Your name, location, and age category.

For there are two age categories: over 18 (prize £250); 18 and under (prize £150). There will be Classics books aplenty for the two runners-up in each category. The competition is open to anyone anywhere in the world.

Please email entries (as well as any queries) to

and cross your fingers for our announcement at the end of September.

Good luck, one and all!


1 Speech of 28 October 1943. That same address included the defence of an oblong, rather than circular, chamber for political debate.