Page last updated at 19:45 GMT, Tuesday, 12 May 2009 20:45 UK

Prince attacks 'flawed' design

Prince Charles
The Prince has become renowned for his outspoken views on architecture

The Prince of Wales has continued his attack on "modernist" architecture, saying buildings should be made to last and must put the needs of people first.

Speaking at an event marking the Royal Institute of British Architects' (RIBA) 175th anniversary, he said much modern architecture remained "flawed".

He called on architects to return to traditional "organic" designs.

The prince's comments came 25 years after his famous "carbuncle" attack on a proposed National Gallery extension.

The prince also appeared to mock well-known architect Lord Rogers - whose firm's designs for the £1bn Chelsea Barracks housing scheme he has publicly opposed - for designing modernist buildings, but choosing to live in a classical house.

Describing what he termed "the Modernist experiment" as producing "mechanical, or even genetically-modified" architecture, the prince said many architecture schools had "persisted in teaching an approach which is deliberately counter-intuitive to the human spirit and to the underlying patterns of nature herself of which, whether we like it or not, we are a microcosm."

His [Prince Charles] view is really out of date. It belongs to another century
Modernist architect Will Alsop

And he drew a architectural parallel with the consequences of the current economic recession, saying it had at least "brought to light something of the short-termist, unsustainable, and experimental nature of the way many professionals now operate in the world".

The prince appeared to make reference to the criticisms he has faced for his views over the years but he made no direct comment about his description of the proposed National Gallery extension as "a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend".

But he defended his right to continue airing his views on architecture when he told the audience: "Let me point out that I don't go around criticising other people's private artworks.

"I may not like some of them very much, but it is their business what they choose to put in their houses. However, as I have said before, architecture and the built environment affect us all."

The prince appeared to mock the winner of architecture's Pritzker prize - Lord Rogers - when he said: "An architect friend of mine asked 'How many Pritzker prizewinners are not living in beautiful classical homes?' and we all know what he was getting at.

Building 'fairyland'

"Surely architects flock in such numbers to live in these lovely old houses ...because, deep down, they do respond to the natural patterns and rhythms I have been talking about."

Prince Charles' decision to write to the developers of the Chelsea Barracks scheme urging them to reconsider Lord Rogers' firm's design for the project had resulted in a number of leading architects calling on colleagues to boycott tonight's lecture.

Modernist architect Will Alsop said: "His view is really out of date. It belongs to another century and I don't see why in the 21st Century we should be building 'fairyland' when we could be doing something much better."

However, traditionalist architect Robert Adam said it was "right and proper" for the prince to speak out.

"The Prince of Wales... is speaking for the man in the street... who has no real power in the face of very powerful architects and bureaucracy," he said.

The BBC's royal correspondent, Peter Hunt, said: "In architecture, as in health and education, Prince Charles is a controversial figure.

"A champion of traditional buildings constructed with local people in mind, he stands accused by his critics of using his influence to the detriment of the democratic process."



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