The Prince's Foundation's decision to drop its foundation course is a great loss for architecture.There are those who will never forgive Prince Charles for his unfortunate comments on modern architecture.But sheer staying power has silenced those who regarded the princely interest in architecture as a passing fad; and the days in which we could dismiss the prince and his associates as a bunch of meddling amateurs are long gone.Putting the architectural foundation course firmly on the agenda has been one of the foundation's most significant achievements.
There is widespread acknowledgement of the absurdity of embarking on seven years of study of an entirely alien subject.The proliferation of ad hoc initiatives to bring architecture into schools reflects a recognition that the subject needs to be addressed at pre-degree level.So it remains a mystery as to why the architecture foundation course is not as familiar and as established as the ubiquitous art foundation course.
And concerns about the homogeneity of the profession suggest schools of architecture should be making more of an effort to attract students from a range of entry routes.
The Prince's Foundation's genuinely multi-cultural student body is a significant player in the battle to combat architecture's white male bias.Tempting though it is to scoff at all things royal, this is royal patronage being used to its most potent effect.
The perception that the foundation is the puppet of the establishment is both its blessing and its curse.To the profession, it is an impostor which has leap-frogged its way to prominence.But to those who suffer from social exclusion - whether because of ethnicity, gender, or simply youth - the royal connection is a positive force. It is ironic - but rather wonderful - that many who have seen their 'otherness'as the most significant barrier to an architectural career have found acceptance and encouragement from an institution with such establishment credentials.An opportunity to study architecture at the Prince's Foundation is effectively a royal seal of approval to pursue a career which might otherwise have seemed out of reach.