Charles lost, but had his good times
We should have all grown up enough not to be triumphalist over the demise of an explicitly anti-modern (and Modern) campaign waged against British architects between 1984 and 1997 by the Prince of Wales (although personally I confess to a new spring in my step this week). As this magazine reported in November last year, the diploma school founded by the prince will close this summer. Future activities of the 'school' under the leadership of that most excellent Modernist Adrian Gale, whose appointment has just been announced, will concentrate on the foundation course, and on creating links along the lines of the Prince's Trust with like-minded groups in Britain at large. Thus the Urban Villages Forum would be seen as a natural ally, as might all sorts of amenity and community groups (business and local).
The overall director of the pow Institute, Richard Hodges, must hope that this is the end of the story, or at least a genuine new chapter in a story of a different kind. He has never liked the style wars in which the Prince engaged, even though they were prompted by the most serious thinkers who gave support to his cause: Leon Krier, Demetri Porphyrios, Robert Adam et al. Now the spin being put on the Prince's views is that he does not care about style either, but is deeply interested in sustainability rather than in bashing Sir Norman Foster om or Lord Rogers.
I do not believe for one moment that he has changed his views on architecture. If you have seen Highgrove, you know what the Prince likes, and there is no reason to think he will change (and as far as personal preference goes, why should he?). What is welcome is his belated realisation that it is possible to approach architecture in more than one way, and share similar concerns. The Prince's positive contribution to the architectural debate has been to demand more thought and better quality, and from that point of view he has been of benefit. If only he had taken wiser counsel along the way.