« | Home | »

From Quango to Duchy Original

Tags: |

The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment has had its funding withdrawn in the quango cuts through which the Coalition is saving the country from bankruptcy and shame. But does this mean that no one’s going to bother about what we see? Just a week after the quango’s abolition, the Foundation for the Built Environment has very kindly made an offer to take over the job and give design advice on projected plans. HRH the Prince of Wales is the president of the foundation, which employs HRH-approved architects and town planners devoted to overcoming the blight of modernism with traditional architecture, such as the much-troubled Poundbury, the Duchy Original of Disneyfied old home towns. The Foundation is not even asking for public funding for doing the job, it will review public architecture plans on a fee basis.

Last year, the prince screwed Richard Rogers’s design for the redevelopment of the Chelsea Barracks by writing to the Emir of Qatar, prompting a high court judge to call the intervention ‘unexpected and unwelcome’. But it’s clear from his new book that Charles knows in a deep and mystical way what’s right for the planet and how to save it, so it’s only reasonable that he should take advantage of the loss of a public body to step in and ensure things are done properly in accordance with Nature’s laws.

Comments on “From Quango to Duchy Original”

  1. Geoff Roberts says:

    Are the quangos doomed – all of them, or just this one? Why doesn’t the government do something really worthwhile and withdraw the funding from Bonny Prince Charley? That would put their ratings up by an estimated 50%

  2. A.J.P. Crown says:

    From the Guardian article:

    The Candy brothers’ company, CPC group, and Rogers had planned to develop the 5.2-hectare (13-acre) site, opposite Sir Christopher Wren’s Royal Hospital Chelsea near Sloane Square, London, into a £3bn mix of luxury flats and more affordable housing.

    … but probably not THAT much more affordable. Richard Rogers is a great designer, but in this case it doesn’t sound as if he designed the programme; presumably the developer included some minimal amount of “affordable” housing in order to get it approved. What was going to be so wonderful about 3 billion-pounds-worth of luxury housing being dumped on this currently open site? I think it sounds revolting. If nobody can come up with something socially acceptable, then the site should stay open. The royal family should be dropped off the edge of the earth, but until that happens I say Well done, Prince Charles, for putting a stop to it.

  3. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Thanks for the links, outof.

    seems it’s not done yet,
    The Standard article only says M.Squire is doing a “masterplan” proposal. That’s usually less about what the building will look like (it might show the suggested materials) and more about where the building’s entrances are, the number of storeys, where the underground parking is entered and if there are public bits (like shops). Most important it’s a proposal for the building massing in comparison to those parts of the site that remain open. You can see the latter’s “an issue” in the earlier model you linked to, where they’ve jammed hundreds of fully-grown trees next to the buildings: that’s the building trade’s way of saying “We’re very sensitive to the ecology and you’ll never even see any buildings. Honest, guv.”

    he just builds people what they want. Is that necessarily a bad thing?
    If it were a good thing, we wouldn’t need zoning or building codes. In my opinion the best architects, rather than blindly following their client, reinterpret the client’s wishes into ideas about buildings. All architects worth their salt have different goals than their clients’ (with a developer, the goals are “a nice building” vs “a nice lot of money”); the trick is to make the goals agree, “to bridge the gap between design and commerce” in Squires’ case. But if, for the sake of argument, we assume he manages that (he won’t), there’s another problem: they’re designing something that (a) faces an important public open site and (b) tries to complement Wren’s building. It sounds to me like a great site for a public building, not a site for luxury housing.

    • outofdate says:

      Ah, thanks. The right-thinking angle has been that it’s somehow undemocratic of Charles to interfere, which you’re turning on its head by saying it shouldn’t be in the hands of a developer at all and at least he’s averting the worst, more or less on our behalf — or if you must by ‘mystically’ knowing what’s right. What are we (not me, the Great British public) meant to do, vote? Democracy is in a way a question of lots of fools mystically knowing what’s right; I don’t see how you can eliminate that element completely and make sure that reason and taste (whose?) prevail.

      Or put it another way: people seem to agree that Charles has some odd opinions but means well, whereas the emir of Qatar means business. Instinctively I’d be for the guy who means well, but the democratic vote by and large tells us that business is always right, ensuring as it does ‘growth’, like some carcinogenic substance.

  4. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Prince Charles means well. However, I don’t suppose he has any problem with building luxury housing on this site, whereas I kind of do. But, what the hell, I say use him until you can get rid of him. I’m quite sure that many of those who sneer at his views on architecture are not really the modernists they pretend to be, and they should remember that historically modernism isn’t only the style of the left.

    • outofdate says:

      Do you like that? It’s kind of lovely, the way it goes all transparent and weightless by night (better without Satan scowling at you from the side maybe).

    • Geoff Roberts says:

      Not so sure about the provenance of that image that you have linked there. The point is taken though, Musso was right up there with Charles when it comes to producing grotty architecture.

  5. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Yes, I love it, it’s one of my favourite buildings. (It’s the Casa Del Fascio, by Giuseppe Terragni). The transparency, lighting, layering, weightlessness and abstraction are all from Futurism rather than Fascism (most of Mussolini’s architecture was pretty bad, except for the railway stations); and the illuminated blank wall has in its time advertised Fascists, Communists and everyone in between. The original 1936 interiors were quite spectacular examples of Italian modernism.

Comment on this post

Log in or register to post a comment.

  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • andymartinink on Reacher v. Parker: Slayground definitely next on my agenda. But to be fair to Lee Child, as per the Forbes analysis, there is clearly a massive collective reader-writer ...
    • Robert Hanks on Reacher v. Parker: And in Breakout, Parker, in prison, teams up with a black guy to escape; another white con dislikes it but accepts the necessity; Parker is absolutely...
    • Robert Hanks on Reacher v. Parker: Parker may not have the integrity and honesty of Marlowe, but I'd argue that Richard Stark writes with far more of both than Raymond Chandler does: Ch...
    • Christopher Tayler on Reacher v. Parker: Good to see someone holding up standards. The explanation is that I had thoughts - or words - left over from writing about Lee Child. (For Chandler se...
    • Geoff Roberts on Reacher v. Parker: ..."praised in the London Review of Books" Just read the article on Lee Child in a certain literary review and was surprised to find this rave notice...

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

  • From the LRB Archive

    Chris Lehmann: The Candidates
    18 June 2015

    ‘Every one of the Republican candidates can be described as a full-blown adult failure. These are people who, in most cases, have been granted virtually every imaginable advantage on the road to success, and managed nevertheless to foul things up along the way.’

    Hugh Pennington:
    The Problem with Biodiversity
    10 May 2007

    ‘As a medical microbiologist, for example, I have spent my career fighting biodiversity: my ultimate aim has been to cause the extinction of harmful microbes, an objective shared by veterinary and plant pathologists. But despite more than a hundred years of concentrated effort, supported by solid science, smallpox has been the only success.’

    Jeremy Harding: At the Mexican Border
    20 October 2011

    ‘The battle against illegal migration is a domestic version of America’s interventions overseas, with many of the same trappings: big manpower commitments, militarisation, pursuit, detection, rendition, loss of life. The Mexican border was already the focus of attention before 9/11; it is now a fixation that shows no signs of abating.’

    James Meek: When the Floods Came
    31 July 2008

    ‘Last July, a few days after the floods arrived, with 350,000 people still cut off from the first necessity of life, Severn Trent held its annual general meeting. It announced profits of £325 million, and confirmed a dividend for shareholders of £143 million. Not long afterwards the company, with the consent of the water regulator Ofwat, announced that it wouldn’t be compensating customers: all would be charged as if they had had running water, even when they hadn’t.’

Advertisement Advertisement