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Prince Charles mocks Dome at 'holistic'RICS awards

The Prince of Wales took another sideswipe at the Millennium Dome last week as he made a further impassioned speech about the need for people-friendly buildings and an end to 'genetically modified architecture'.

The Prince was addressing the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' tenth annual awards ceremony, and commended the institution on its 'imaginative' choice of venue - the Chainstore at Trinity Buoy Wharf, little more than a stone's throw across the Thames from the Dome.

'It's been put to a good use, ' said Prince Charles of the new arts venue, 'rather than with so many buildings which are often very expensive and which have a short life and a single use. In this location the contrast is rather stark.'

The Dome, which Greenwich council is fighting to get listed as a 'landmark icon building', failed to make even the shortlist from the divisional judges for a single RICS award.

The awards as a whole were backed by the Prince as exemplifying what he called a 'holistic' approach, covering urban and rural projects and taking into account factors such as energy efficiency, craftsmanship, aesthetic appeal and community benefit.

Elaborating on his broader reflections, the Prince said that as 'only short-term custodians' of the planet it was time to restore an 'interconnectedness' in approaches to the built environment, rather than 'disintegration'. He pointed to his own efforts to 'reconnect' the building professions with the community through his Foundation and the Phoenix Trust. Just as his early words on forging an organic approach to 'agricultural husbandry' were now coming to the fore, he went on, so his views on complementary medicine and now on the built environment were, he claimed, achieving greater popularity. 'We should not deny the past or reject it, ' he said.

But perhaps the design profession did not put its money where its mouth is.

'It's fascinating to see where architects live - most of them want to live in an eighteenth century house in a conservation area, which is quite interesting, ' said the Prince. 'Organic' places such as Poundbury in Dorset were 'a remarkab le success s tor y ' and 'an interes t ing example of how you can build in the countryside'.

The Prince added: 'There is an urgent need to think more organically on the built environment and build places that meet needs not only economically but also socially and spiritually. I see just one road ahead: we will only make fundamental improvements to the quality of our environment by collaborative effort, encouraging communities to flourish.'

The Prince's words follow his inaugural Stephen Lawrence address in east London last month, where he castigated the 'self-referential and self-congratulatory' profession for losing touch with craftsmanship and tradition (AJ 14.09.00). The speech attracted criticism from RIBA president Marco Goldschmied and from some who believed he departed too much from the issue of racial equality within architecture.

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