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Prince drops Foundation bombshell

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The Prince's Foundation has axed its one-year architecture foundation course, the AJ has learned. The programme is to be replaced by a series of short 'masterclass' courses aimed at qualified designers in an attempt to refocus the body's work and generate extra income.

The decision comes as a blow to both architects and staff at the Foundation. Thirty students graduated from the craft-based programme this year and held their final show last month.

In a statement written for students, the Prince of Wales said: 'We are making changes to the teaching programme at my Foundation and next year we will be seeking to reach a wider number of students and participants through a broader range of architectural and craft programmes. This means that the foundation course . . . will sadly come to an end.'

Foundation chief executive David Lunts said it was a 'very sad and tough' decision. 'In many ways it was an exemplary course. But there's always going to be constraints with what you can do when you're not a full-scale school of architecture.'

In October the Foundation will offer a new programme of modular courses focusing on the urban realm, regeneration and community liaison. Courses are to be charged in the order of £150 per day.

Adrian Gale, head of the programme until 1999, called the move 'a huge disappointment' while architect Robert Adam said he was 'rather upset' by the development. 'They have their reasons and you can't argue with their reasons, ' said Adam, who currently employs five course graduates. 'I believe there was a gap between the finances and the perceived influence of the course, but I think their influence was greater than they thought.'

He added: 'It's very difficult to find anybody who has a developed interest in traditional architecture, or who has even been given any encouragement in it. It's a great shame because the course was the only one of its kind - and for people operating a different kind of architecture, like we do, it's a major loss.'

The new RIBA vice-president for education Alan Jones called the course 'a good stepping stone' and said its closure was 'a pity'.

But architect Matthew Lloyd, who designed the Foundation's building in London's Shoreditch, was less generous: 'It doesn't come as a surprise they've cut it - the list of changes at that place is huge.What is disappointing is that the studios are not going to be used for the purpose they were designed for just a year ago. Personally, I don't think it was a good course - with 35 other schools out there, why do you need another one?'

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