Monstrous Carbuncles Just Keep on Coming
Twenty five years ago Prince Charles, in a fit of righteous indignation, condemned an architectural plan for being, in his words, “a monstrous carbuncle on the face of an old friend”, thus enraging the Royal Institute of British Architects, who angrily bit back at anyone having the temerity to question their architects’ view of the future. A future that seemed to be a cold, soulless, glass and concrete skyscraper jungle dwafing the people who had the misforturne to actually live their vision.
In the intervening 25 years it seemed like a sort of armed neutrality had been achieved. The RIBA, in a grand gesture of “forgiveness”, and in the totally baseless belief that his teeth had been pulled rendering him somewhat harmless, invited Charles to be the Keynote speaker at their annual bash. But Charles neither wanted nor needed their forgiveness. He was hot on the trail of the Chelsea Barracks Project and engaged in a verbal tussle with Lord Rogers (the architect of the aforementioned carbuncle debacle), a man whose architectural style had not, and still does not, thrill Prince Charles at all.
But from small acorns do big oaks grow, and so has Charles’ influence in the sphere of liveable spaces, resulting in the establishment of The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment. However could the RIBA have overlooked Charles’ continued role of honourary Knight, defender, champion and zealous upholder of a cause or principle or, in his case, his future subjects? Because they are arrogant and don’t live where they build or perhaps they have been living in an ivory tower in splendid isolation these last 25 year? Who knows? More importantly who cares?
As the final battle of the largely unreported “war” over the future of the Chelsea Barracks site exploded into the press we had “David and Goliath”, a battle for the new millennium! The press reported the battle blow by blow, as the fortunes of either side ebbed and flowed. Finally Goliath, in the person of Lord Rogers, declared victory over “David”, and in his “humility” dumped all over the routed Prince.
But whoa! Within hours the tide turned and the financial backers withdrew their support, effectively closing down the project. Prince Charles had, apparently, written a letter to the financial backers. Foul cried Lord Rogers as his concrete and glass monuments to, and for, the extremely wealthy bit the dust. “Arrogant, feudal, unconstitutional interference” he claimed, incandescent with rage and ignoring the fact that he also has been known to “write a letter or two” himself!
As for the 450 other residents who protested? Whoever heard of them until the “interference” of Prince Charles. Charming, don’t you think?The United Kingdom
Tagged Architecture, The Prince of Wales.