The BBC – Architect Rogers angry at Prince

“The architect Lord Rogers has said he believes Prince Charles has broken the “constitutional understanding” governing the role of the monarchy.

Last week, Lord Rogers’ plan to transform Chelsea Barracks in west London was dropped after the prince told developers it was “unsympathetic”.

The architect told the BBC there could be “a dangerous political clash” unless the power of the royals is re-examined.

Clarence House declined to comment on Lord Rogers’ remarks.

The 12.8 acre Chelsea Barracks site in west London is owned by Qatari Diar, the state of Qatar’s property investment arm, which is headed by the country’s prime minister.

‘Dangerous precedent’

The developer had planned to spend £1bn building a complex of 552 flats in 17 blocks.

It had favoured Lord Rogers’ modernist glass and steel design, but in March, the Prince of Wales told Qatar’s royal family it was “unsuitable”.

He said he preferred an alternative classical design for the site by architect Quinlan Terry.

Last week, just days before it was due to be considered by local planning officers, the developers announced that the application had been withdrawn.

Now, in an interview with the BBC’s Today programme, Lord Rogers has claimed that Prince Charles overstepped his remit.

“I think there’s a dangerous precedent that the Prince has entered into, which is very much about how he sees style,” he said.

“And the Prince is not willing to debate. If the Prince does not debate there must be a question over why he can participate in political situations.

“I think that anyone who uses his power due to birth [like this] breaks a constitutional understanding – it’s not a law, it’s a constitutional understanding – and a trust we have within our society about the role of people who have received power in that manner.”

Lord Rogers said a committee of constitutional experts should be set up to examine “the powers of the Prince and his ability to change the political direction”.

“If we are to avoid a dangerous political clash then we need someone to solve the problem at a level which is not about this site, but at the level of royalty and their say in political matters,” he said.

Lord Rogers said he doubted the Chelsea Barracks site would be developed for many years.

He also warned that other foreign companies could be put off investing in the UK for fear the prince would take a dislike to their building schemes.

Lord Rogers has designed some of the most influential buildings in the world, including the Lloyd’s building in the City of London.


Prince Charles’s views on architecture have caused controversy in the past.

Just last month architects threatened to boycott his speech to the Royal Institute of British Architects after the Prince sent a letter to the Chelsea Barracks developers asking them to reconsider their decision.

In the speech the Prince attacked “modernist” architecture and called on the industry to design buildings built to last and which put the needs of the people first.

The speech came 25 years after the Princes’ now infamous remarks on the proposed extension of the National Gallery which he described as “a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend.”

The Prince’s love of traditional architecture and passion for the environment can be seen in the development of the village of Poundbury.

An urban development project based on the Prince’s book ‘A Vision of Britain’, the site in Dorchester now houses 5,000 people and is complete with eco-housing built to traditional design.

His interest in traditional architecture has also resulted in the establishment of the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment.

But his commitment to architecture will not help pacify his critics, many of whom see the Prince as out of date.”

Charles is honestly a blessing and a curse to the architectural industry. On the one hand he has done an awful lot to promote it in the public eye, but more often he’s riding roughshod over our already antiquated planning system to preserve his view of what it should be. I mean, it’s always Quinlan-Fucking-Terry and his Austen / Chocolate Box Illustration pastiche that he trots out as an example of what his preferred alternative is.

However I doubt once again that anything will be done other than the media will agree with him because there’s a percieved notion that modern-architecture is crap (yes, some of it is – but lets face it, there are a lot of old crap buildings out there as well).

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