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Prince attacks profession again

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The Prince of Wales has renewed his attack on the architecture profession, wading into the heated debate over the value of 'icons'.

The scourge of Modernism hit out at the 'built-environment professions' for indulging their 'egotistical ambitions'.

Speaking at a Royal College of Physicians conference on Monday (21 February), Prince Charles claimed that architects still refuse to learn the lessons of the past 50 years, attacking the profession's 'attitude'.

'Instead of seeing every building as an opportunity to make an ever more imaginative iconic 'statement' - and to indulge our egotistical ambitions - I believe we must see each piece of the built environment as part of a living language, connected to a living tradition, ' he told the conference.

'Is it any surprise that our cavalier attitude to the health of our physical environment is also creating our own health problems? Just as we are learning that we cannot treat the human body as a mere machine - that we cannot treat nature as a purely mechanical process - we are also learning that we cannot treat our cities and towns as what Le Corbusier called a 'machine for living'. And yet this is what I fear too many in the professions involved with the built environment are still doing.' 'We must come to regard the characteristics of traditional architecture as not merely unfashionable political statements, to be thrown out with yesterday's rubbish, along with the baby and the bathwater - but, rather, as organically adapting creations over the passage of time, helping us to generate and regenerate places that relate to our essential humanity, ' the Prince added.

But RIBA president George Ferguson took issue, refusing to accept that architects and planners have a cavalier attitude. 'I agree with Prince Charles' sentiments but, if anything, he's generalising too much, ' he said. 'The architectural profession cares a lot about these issues and he must make allowance for the good things that have happened as well as the bad.

'There has been a huge shift in attitude within the profession and the trend encouraged by the RIBA is towards making good places, rather than iconic buildings, ' Ferguson added.

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