Prince Charles Gets in Trouble with Architects Again

chelsea site photo

Image from the Guardian

Prince Charles has a habit of getting in trouble with architects. HRH likes buildings in the traditional style so that they look like they are from a quieter, gentler and more idyllic time. He has railed against modernist architecture in the past, calling one new building a "monstrous carbuncle".

Now HRH is at it again. This time it is a huge development in a very expensive area of London, owned by the Qatari royal family. The first plan was for modern high rises by Lord Rogers one of the Prince's least favourite architects. Aligning himself with irate residents, he managed to get the Emir to jettison that plan and a new green one has been introduced, complete with cabbage patches in the gardens.

green chelsea photo

Image from the Evening Standard

Located in the Chelsea Barracks which were originally a British army barracks, the 12 acres of land were sold to the Qatari Diar, the property development arm of the royal family. It is a hugely expensive project in one of the most expensive residential areas in London. The original £3 billion project consisted of 16 modern high rise buildings in a gated community. The local residents mounted a huge campaign against the design, with the help of many famous people, including the Prince of Wales, with the result that the old site plan was withdrawn and a new one has been redesigned by a new architect, and a landscape architect, Kim Wilkie Associates.

The new plan has a series of public squares; some of the first to be built in London in the last century. There will be 600 houses and flats set around them.

It will include allotments for raising food. According to a sterling source at the Daily Mail, there will be a nuttery, with walnut and hazelnut trees planted around a central square, as well as fruit orchards and space for beehives.

The central spine of the site will include vegetable gardens, with two full-time staff and the produce will be sold at a farmers' market in the square. This "market garden" will be surrounded by houses. Elsewhere there will be orchards and space for bees.

And to keep the plans as green as possible, the power plant servicing the 12.5-acre site will be built beneath the plots, with the heat produced warming the earth and allowing year-round production. Part of the site will be open to the public and there will be a long rill and hedgerow to provide a city home for birds, insects and small animals.

royal high photo

Image from Waste Aware Business

Wilkie is a favourite of the Prince and has worked on projects with him before. Many of these ideas are similar to those developed by HRH at his country house, Highgrove and Clarence House, his London abode.

The real estate agents are not so enamoured. They wonder whether beans in the side garden will sell multi-million pound apartments. As Wilkie said "The idea of making a vegetable plot central to one of the most expensive developments in London had the agents weeping, I had to show them that vegetables can be pretty."

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