Chelsea Barracks

Originally posted 8/30/2011 as research for an Interior Design class

 

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The Chelsea Barracks was a site being developed by a firm owned by the royal family of Qatar. Their architect, Lord Richard Rogers, is well known for his “modernist and functionalist designs.” The Barracks were to hold 552 homes, as well as a hotel complex. Prince Charles, who wrote a book called “A Vision of Britain” in 1989, detests Rogers’ modern design for the Barracks, which are sited across from Sir Christopher Wren’s Royal Hospital. Charles decided to write a letter to Qatar Prime Minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al-Thani, to suggest that Rogers’ Chelsea Barracks design be thrown out, and that Quinlan Terry (one of Prince Charles favorite architects <www.gaurdian.co.uk>) should design a more traditional site plan. Although the Chelsea Barracks design was thoroughly researched and surveyed, in April of 2009 the decision was reached to throw out the modern design, firing Lord Rogers and delaying the project by at least a year.
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The point of view of Prince Charles is that the United Kingdom is uniquely historical and he wants to keep that style in the buildings and structures. According to him, people visit England expecting to delve into the country’s history, and the contemporary architecture is destroying that. To aid in his effort to establish traditional buildings and educate others, he founded the Foundation for the Built Environment (www.princes-foundation.org) The official mission of this foundation is to improve “standards for homes, streets [and] public and private spaces.” and the Chelsea Barracks site plan became a huge project for them.

While Prince Charles has many reasons to back up his argument, so do the modern architects, both involved in and in support of the Chelsea Barracks project. Several well known architects signed a letter stating that the prince used “behind-the-scenes lobbying” to “skew the course of an open and democratic planning process” (www.planetizen.com) Lord Richard Rogers even went as far as to say that Prince Charles acted “unconstitutional” and “single-handedly destroyed the project.” (www.telegraph.co.uk)

England does indeed have many history and multiple ancient architecture styles to prove it. However, the prince does not seem to understand that it is okay too keep historical elements in mind, but those elements were at one point new and scandalous (such as the gothic and rococo styles). In the future, what is now contemporary will be historical in and of itself. The site planning and architecture firm had done all of its necessary research and survey of the environmental surroundings and locals prior to its design; their claim of the prince unconstitutionally using his royal influence is understandable. Nonetheless, Prince Charles did not act completely anarchist, as he wrote letters and made calls sincerely asking for a more classical approach, because of his love for his country. Either way a happy medium must be made between the English traditional and English modern styles that is both visually pleasing and heirloom quality.

*Photos in this post are found online and are not my property.
Works Cited

Booth, Robert. “Prince Charles demands modernist designs by Richard Rogers for former Chelsea Barracks site in west London be scrapped; guardian.co.uk ” Latest news, comment and reviews from the Guardian; guardian.co.uk  . N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2010. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/apr/06/charles-architecture-chelsea>.

“Prince Charles vs Modern Architecture | Styleture.com – notable designs and functional living spaces.” Styleture – notable designs and functional living spaces. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2010. <http://www.styleture.com/2009/07/25/prince-charles-vs-modern-architecture/>.

Wardrop, Murray. “Lord Rogers attacks Prince Charles for intervening in Chelsea Barracks wrangle  – Telegraph.” Telegraph.co.uk: news, business, sport, the Daily Telegraph newspaper, Sunday Telegraph – Telegraph. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2010. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/theroyalfamily/5546098/Lord-Rogers-attacks-Prince-Charles-for-intervening-in-Chelsea-Barracks-wrangle.html>.

Siegal, Charles. “Prince Charles vs. the Architects | Planetizen.” Planetizen; Urban Planning, Design and Development Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2010. <http://www.planetizen.com/node/39756>.

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