Prince Charles Falls Out With More Architecture Enthusiasts

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 103 months ago
Prince Charles Falls Out With More Architecture Enthusiasts

1307_clarence.jpg Prince Charles' ever-forthright views on architecture aren't just getting him in trouble with modern practitioners. He's stepped down as patron for the London-based Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings after they rejected a foreword he wrote on the subject of house restoration.

Going against the Society's policy, which encourages the use of modern practises, Charles wrote that old houses should always be refurbished in their original style. The Society, none too pleased by this, asked for a re-write, but were swiftly told that it was an all-or-nothing proposal. Seeing this as an issue of censorship, the Prince ended his relationship with the Society.

Restoration in period style is an interesting idea, but one that leaves the Prince with some work to do. His official residence of Clarence House was extensively modernised when he took it off the cold hands of his late grandmother in 2003, and the interior was redecorated by Robert Kime who, to our knowledge, was not alive in the early 19th century. Charles is presumably negotiating with electricians and plumbers this moment to ensure the prompt removal of insulation, electricity cables and flush toilets.

Ironically, as Charles falls out with those of a classical bent, he's had something of a positive effect on contemporary architecture: his influence in the Chelsea Barracks scheme, which saw the developer dump Richard Rogers' firm's plan, has now received over forty new applications. Judging by the interest, it seems the ultimate in architectural cachet is to have your modernist masterpiece poo-poohed by our future head of state.

Last Updated 13 July 2009

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Prince Charles is correct to insist that refurbishments to buildings should remain in the same style as the original building. One has only to look at the horror of the Louvre's glass addition to see how jarring and inappropriate it is to put on an addition that totally clashes with the lines of the original building. To tweak him in your inimitable British style is unfair in this case, as he is only trying to keep modernists from making a hash of perfectly beautiful classical buildings that were beautifully designed and perfectly proportioned, as well as very well made to stand the test of time. Here in America, we have people champing at the bit to destroy absolutely lovely buildings in order to put up faceless, ghastly monstrosities in their place. The main impetus is economic; how to get more money per square foot out of whatever is on the property. It is not as if we don't have enough space, either. I wish America had more people like Prince Charles leading America's taste and sense of proportion. He may not have gotten his love life right, but he does know his architecture, and he paints and plays cello well, too; and his heart seems to be in the right place when it comes to disadvantaged British youth.