Neoclassical architects stand little chance of winning major design competitions because juries are packed with modernists, according to the man who masterplanned Prince Charles’ Poundbury development
Leon Krier bemoaned the lack of opportunities for ‘traditionalists’ as he unveiled an alternative proposal to house the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) in a new classical-inspired building on the edge of Regent’s Park rather than in the Barbican - the government’s preferred site.
Speaking to the Architects’ Journal, he said: ‘I am not a fanatic anti-modernist but today most competitions are run by modernist juries and anyone proposing a classical solution doesn’t stand a chance.
‘There is an enormous industry designing classical buildings - but it is very difficult to get them commissioned.’
‘Even the new concert halls that try to be more funny and baroque in a postmodern style share the same mindset as the modernists.’
Krier also criticised the government-commissioned report which last year recommended that a new concert hall for the LSO should be housed on the site of the soon-to-depart Museum of London in the City of London.
He said: ‘The surrounding urban context at the Barbican is so sinister – next to a motorway and overshadowed by skyscrapers.’
London Music Forum conceived and drawn by Leon Krier copyright 2016
However the 69-year-old Luxembourg-born masterplanner agreed that concert halls should be located in the centre of cities, rather than used as tools to regenerate outlying areas.
He said: ‘When you have concert halls in suburban environments it is a disaster. To go there you lose hours of travel and parking. It should be integrated into an urban community like the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.’
Talking about his work and style of design, Krier went on to dismiss criticisms that classical architecture harked back to an era that has passed: ‘To do the right thing, you have to act on experience. It is the same in any trade. A carpenter and an accountant doesn’t throw out practices built up over centuries.
‘Memory, culture, language and intelligence are all conditional on each other. Nature is imitative by definition. I always tell students not to worry about originality – you are original whether you like it or not. Whatever you attempt to imitate becomes yours. If we speak a common language, it doesn’t mean giving up our personality.’