Architects back Rogers 2:1

Monday 27 Apr 2009

WAN Poll results show muted support for Rogers Chelsea Barracks design

As the RIBA and Pritzker prize-winning architects were lending their names to dissent against The Prince of Wales’ interference in the planning process last week, WAN asked for your opinion on his recent attempt to block Richard Rogers’ Chelsea Barracks design and to compare Rogers' design with the Quinlan Terry design the Prince subsequently commissioned for the same site. The results were not clear cut.

5 Pritzker prize winners: Jacques Herzog, Lord Foster, Zaha Hadid, Renzo Piano, Frank Gehry and five others, signed their names in a letter to the UK's Sunday Times after the Prince's hearty opposition to Rogers' design for the £1billion Chelsea Barracks housing scheme emerged. The scheme is set to create 552 homes in the prestigious London borough of Chelsea. RIBA's President Sunand Prasad also issued a statement urging the Prince to back down. The issue is as hotly felt in the rest of the architecture community as is evidenced in our keenly participated poll.

While two thirds of readers voted for Rogers’ design as the preferred option for the site, many did so reluctantly, commenting that the accommodation design needed improvement. One architect commented: “I can really vote for neither. Lord Rogers' architecture is exquisite (as usual), but his place-making is horrid. He stacks the dwellings like compact shelving in a library archive - maximum storage of human beings.

“In this respect,” the comment continues, “the Prince's design at least provides humane and varied spatial experiences and reinforces the street wall, befitting an extension of the urban fabric of London...If only the we could have the architectural integrity of Rogers' scheme with the spatial experience of the Prince's scheme”

Others commented that the Rogers design was ‘sterile’ and ‘bland’. Overwhelmingly, however, it was noted that Quinlan Terry’s design for the Prince is outdated. "The Prince Charles sponsored design symbolises his aspiration to transform Britain into a historical 'olde worlde' theme park where he at least can be assured of getting an appropriate job. Disney do it better. Leave the real world to real people," read one comment, while another stated, "We can not afford the nostalgic few, whom seek to evoke an empire lost, to be given a louder voice than the rest of us trying to take this country into the 21st or even the 20th century."

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