Thursday, 10 September 2009

Feeling a right Charlie

It's not often I find myself strongly aligned with the Prince of Wales. In fact, it's such a rare occurence that I found it decidely difficult to type that previous sentence. Yet there are some aspects of his views on architecture that I can't help but applaud.

I'm not saying 'down with all modern stuff' - I like much modern architecture. Nor do I share his enthusiasm for neo-classical - I've always found classical architecture sterile and cold. But I do agree that those who are responsible for designing our domestic architecture should make more reference to architectural tradition.

We now live on a modern development that is anything but a collection of oversized shoeboxes. With reckless abandon, whoever designed it has plundered architectural styles to produce something that works wonderfully well. Whether it's the rather French-looking house we now live in, or something that would fit well in a London street, they have used scale and style to make it a pleasure to look at and live in. Take, for instance, this pastiche London crescent near to us. I think it's delightful (it's a lot more distinguished live than it is in the photo).

However, a little further away on one of my dog walk routes is another development, somewhat older, where I really can't imagine what was going through the head of the architect. Because he or she decided to copy one of the worst period domestic styles I can think of. The 1930s villa. (That's one in the picture - despite appearances, it is a modern house.) Why? I've nothing against these houses per se. I've lived in the real thing, and it was fine. But they're ugly, undistinguished and unnecessary when there's such a palette of styles to choose from.

Architects, by all means plunder the past. It's a great way to start a design for the future. But have some taste in the process, please.

1 comment:

  1. The second example looks very much like a Barratt's house. I grew up on a Barratt's estate, with perhaps 5 or 6 different styles shared between hundreds if not thousands of homes. Ours was very similar to the one you showed (there were ones identical to it up the street, in the slightly older section); but with a pale sandstone front instead of being all red brick, and with the door on the side, not the front.