Thursday, November 5, 2009

Welcome To Prince Charles Town?

If you're a traditional design lover add Poundbury, England to your travel wish list. The latest issue of Travel & Leisure did an article on this small urban extension in England on the outskirts of Dorchester in Dorset county.

Championed by Prince Charles, this suburb is a master planned community that adheres to strict building covenants that require architectural designs embracing only traditional ideals.

The narrow streets are lined with neo Georgian , Victorian and Arts and Crafts style homes. Even though the oldest buildings are only sixteen years old, by design they look as though they have stood in the countryside forever.

Many facades are covered in vines and slate roofs have moss growing on them. Elements of modernity are hidden from view; no satellite dishes, meter boxes, exhaust vents on the sides of buildings or garbage cans are to be seen.

Of course, not everyone is as excited about Poundbury. Modern design architects have complained that Prince Charles is thwarting a democratic planning process by insisting on traditional building designs in the town.

Critics have derisively referred to it as Charleyville. Others describe the facades as resembling a Dickensian workhouse which were once found in Victorian towns.

Personally, I love the idea and would love to live here. I have a dislike for the planned communities I have seen here in California which die hard urban-ites refer to as "beige" neighborhoods. What I especially like about Poundbury is knowing you get a historic look with period architectural elements without the repair or renovation challenges. The best of both worlds.


Tristan Robin Blakeman said...

It's amazing that these buildings are only 16 years old! They really do look centuries old. So many of these faux historical communities in the U.S. look like bad Disneyworld displays - but this one really works.

We really must plan on a visit next time we're in England.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

I think he's a much needed voice of reason in the architectural world. Building these projects in a traditional way ensures that they'll be loved and lived in forever, without having to worry abou them being 'trendy' and torn down in 20 years. He's written (probably with a ghost writer) a few really marvelous books about his views on architecture, you should check them out!

xinex said...

I would love this town, Julio. I am in London right now and I am enjoying the brick red building with wrought iron balconies complete with flower boxes and topiaries. So pretty!...Christine

columnist said...

I can't remember what it is the critics don't like about Poundbury, (soul-less?, sterile?, fake?), but certainly aesthetically it looks rather pleasing and it's obvious there has been a lot of thought put into design. I suppose it's the fact that it did not grow organically, which is an ironic criticism of someone with good "green" credentials.