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Krier: 'Most competitions are run by Modernist juries'

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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

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.’

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Readers' comments (4)

  • Krier's childish scribbles contribute little to the adult debate required to establish a major state-of-the-art concert hall in London fit for a world centre of cultural excellence. Let's hope we don't have another Cardiff Bay Opera House fiasco.

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  • It's difficult to work out which debate this little piece wants to have.
    A Regent's Park rather than Barbican location sounds well worth the argument.
    Krier's faux-naif [sub-Camillo] city townscape might suggest an attractive place. (The relation to the pylon reminding me of the column on the roundabout outside the OMA Lisbon hall, a remarkably unattractive urban place.)
    But whatever does LK mean by 'classical'?
    If he goes to a Rattle concert of music written since he was born, he will realise that copying Leipzig Gewandhaus or Glasgow's (late) St Andrews Halls is just not going to be good enough.

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  • I look forward to Mr Krier's neo-classical high speed train, space station and lap top.

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  • There's neo-allsorts in Mr Krier's Poundbury, clothed in a language of half-baked tradition - and now that Mr Johnson has rolled out deconstructed buses in London could Mr Krier and friends please roll out repro antique public transport in Poundbury, to enhance the purity of the place and for the delectation of all who find our modernist world a bit hard to bear.

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