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AJ exclusive : Prince Charles to bury hatchet with architects

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Prince Charles’s much-anticipated speech at the RIBA on Tuesday 12 May is expected to offer a conciliatory hand to the architect’s body, with which he fell out so spectacularly 25 years ago

Clarence House sources revealed exclusively to the AJ that the Prince is expected to talk about ‘the common ground’ shared between himself and the institute.

A courtier also confirmed that the issues of sustainability and the ‘grammar of architecture’ are likely to feature.

The Prince’s last visit to the RIBA in 1984 ended in uproar when he unexpectedly described Ahrends Burton Koralek’s plans for the National Gallery as a ‘monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend’ and helped secure the scheme’s demise.

And last month the Prince found himself again at loggerheads with the RIBA after criticising Richard Rogers’ Chelsea Barracks proposals.

In a letter to developer Qatari Diar, the Prince rubbished Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners high-denisty designs for the west London site and instead pushed proposals from the classicist architect Quinlan Terry.

This drew the fury of a number of Pritzker-prize winning architects who signed a letter to The Sunday Times urging the Prince to allow the planning process to continue unhindered.

Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster and Frank Gehry were among those who criticised the Prince of Wales for trying to interfere with the democratic process by using his royal connections to stop modernist plans for the site.

The letter states: ‘It is essential in a modern democracy that private comments and behind-the-scenes lobbying by the prince should not be used to skew the course of an open and democratic planning process that is under way.’

It is understood Prince will be taking a far less confrontational tone when he speaks at the 2009 RIBA Trust Annual Lecture next week and will be again focusing on the language of architecture.

In a speech delivered at the Georgian Group Architectural Drawing Prize in November 2008, he said: ‘If you like, I believe, it’s the grammar of harmony that needs to be rediscovered. I think that has been lost with disastrous consequences, not only in the field of architecture and in the field of language, but also in other areas as well.

‘I don’t trust any architect who can’t draw, and who doesn’t submit a drawing, or a measured drawing from which I can judge what the building is going to be like,’ he added.


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