In the eye of the beholder

Prince Charles\’ letter to the Prime Minister of Qatar, published this week, certainly captures its author\’s voice, veering at times into self-parody. In one faux-tentative passage, the Prince argues that traditional architecture is preferred \”because it enhances all those qualities of neighbourliness, community, human-scale [sic], proportion and, dare I say it, \’old-fashioned\’ beauty.\”

The last word, underlined by hand in the letter, made me think of another man with a forceful personality, strong views on architecture, and a conviction that shallow functionalism in design can marginalise and undervalue beauty. Indeed, when undertaking a commission for the last government, this grandee complained that civil servants persistently tried to censor all mention of \’beauty\’ from his report.

I don\’t think either of them would thank me for the observation, but Prince Charles\’ fellow beauty-seeker is, of course, none other than Richard Rogers, the architect whose Chelsea Barracks scheme the Prince was seeking, successfully as it turned out, to derail.

19 thoughts on “In the eye of the beholder”

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