The heir to the throne of Britain, Prince Charles, has called for urban designers to “reconnect with traditional approaches” as he puts forward his vision for the future of architecture and planning.
“I have lost count of the times I have been accused of wanting to turn the clock back to some Golden Age. Nothing could be further from my mind. My concern is the future,” begins Prince Charles’ 2,000-word essay in the latest edition of the magazine Architectural Review
“We face the terrifying prospect by 2050 of another three billion people on this planet needing to be housed and architects and urban designers have an enormous role to play in responding to this challenge.”
The Prince of Wales states his “important geometric principles” for urban masterplanning which “to mix the best of the old with the best of the new” and provide a template for designing places “according to the human scale and with nature at the heart of the process”.
His major points are: respect the land and do not build intrusively, take note of the language of architecture, build to human proportions and with respect to neighbouring structures and ensure connectivity.
Geometry in design is a recurring theme with the examples of the Taj Mahal and gothic cathedrals to the fore.
He also praised the “charm and beauty of a place like(the London boroughs of) Kensington and Chelsea” as he espoused the benefits of terraces and mansion blocks over high-rise towers.
The essay states: “As traditional thinking teaches, basing designs on the timeless universal principles expressed by nature’s order enables the full scope of our humanity to be fulfilled, on the physical, communal, cultural and spiritual levels.
“What has concerned me about the design and planning of so many modern built environments during the greater part of the 20th century is that these four interconnecting levels have been completely abandoned and ignored.”
High density and pedestrian friendly urban designs are also on the agenda for the Prince.
“It is time to take a more mature view” and “reconnect with traditional approaches and techniques”, said Prince Charles.
“This approach does not deny the benefits and convenience that our modern technology brings.”
But Alister Scott, professor of environment and spatial planning at Birmingham City University, called the Prince’s views “ socially regressive and elitist”. He said: “When he considers the ‘charm and beauty of a place like Kensington and Chelsea’ he sort of forgets that the average price of property is £2,085,950.”
Thirty years ago The UK royal made his first prominent statement on architecture calling the proposed extension to London’s National Gallery a “monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend”. This gave rise to the annual UK Carbuncle Award for worst building of the year.