May 5

Prince Charles defends old London

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A quarter-century ago, Prince Charles described a proposed extension to the National Gallery in London as a “monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend”. Most people would think it is fortunate that he did.

Recently the Prince – an outspoken advocate of traditionalist architecture – wrote letters to Qatar’s Emir and the Prime Minister, making a personal plea to drop the modernist design of an apartment block development on the site of the old Chelsea Barracks in the heart of London. 

 The Qatar Royal Family owns the five-hectare site and had commissioned Richard (now Lord) Rogers, the prominent architect, to come up with a design for the development.

According to David Sapsted, Foreign Correspondent of the Abu Dhabi newspaper The National (5/5) Lord Rogers opted for 550 apartments housed in a series of glass and steel towers, the highest 36 metres, topped with grass roofs. The most expensive is expected to go on sale for £70 million (Dh384.5m).

Prince Charles was reported to be aghast at the proposal, which he considered unsuitable for an area of many classical buildings, including the nearby Royal Hospital, a home for old soldiers, which was designed in the 17th century by Sir Christopher Wren.

In his letters, the Prince is understood to have described the Rogers design as “unsympathetic” to the area and put forward, instead, a neoclassical design he had commissioned from Quinlan Terry, a traditionalist architect and a favourite of the Prince.

The Prince's plea has been politely rejected; this is not the end of the matter.

 

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