Wednesday, November 30, 2022

A Brief History of King Charles’s Vendetta Against Modern Architecture

From Architectural Digest:

King Charles III has been a rather outspoken critic of modern architecture for most of his adult life. Perhaps his most damning insult—and what gave him the sobriquet of “the most prominent architecture critic in the world,” from The New York Times—was when he declared a proposed addition to London’s National Gallery as a “monstrous carbuncle” in 1984. Since then, he has not hesitated from offering his opinion on contemporary urban planning or architecture. A story in The Guardian notes that he once called Birmingham’s city center “a monstrous concrete maze,” with a library that resembled “a place where books are incinerated, not kept.” 

And even though not everyone in the city planning and architecture worlds shares his vituperative views of modern design, his opinion has carried weight over the years. The Guardian article lists several projects that were dismissed after the then prince refused to give his imprimatur, including an office tower by Mies van der Rohe and multiple projects by Pritzker Prize winner Richard Rogers.

Apart from critiquing modern design, he’s also tried his best to champion the classic form. As prince, Charles even went so far as to produce an architecture magazine called Perspectives in 1994 (it folded just a few years later), wrote a philosophic architectural book called A Vision of Britain, and created his own architectural institute that focused on his preferred style of classical design. Perhaps his most notable achievement is Poundbury, a housing development and town in southern England filled with neo-Georgian, Victorian, and castle-style homes—you won’t find anything Brutalist here. Architectural critics like The Guardian’s Oliver Wainwright have referred to it as a “feudal Disneyland,” all show and no depth. But the monarch certainly rules over this miniature kingdom with carefully thought-out aesthetic edicts: As a September The New York Times article points out, “nobody is allowed to paint their home a new color ‘without the consent of His Royal Highness.’” You can forget about a visible satellite dish too. (Read more.)


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