Opinion 

Charles III and Architecture

A critic on the throne

Opinion 

Charles III and Architecture

A critic on the throne

01/10/2022


Not since Louis XIV had the world seen a monarch playing architectural critic. The recently enthroned Charles III has little in common with the Sun King, but does emulate him in his passion for cities and buildings, and though the heyday of monarchies is long past, it is no less true that figures like the new sovereign of the United Kingdom have enormous influence on public opinion, more so in the case of the now former Prince of Wales, who has been taking part in architectural debates for over thirty years. A history and art enthusiast, the new head of the House of Windsor predicted back in the late 1980s London’s transformation into a city of skyscrapers, and had no qualms about facing up to one of the popes of British architecture, Richard Rogers, a dispute this magazine duly addressed at the time (see Arquitectura Viva 69). In parallel, he set down his own classicist and ecological utopia, which in the manner of the Pugin of Contrasts opposed the aesthetic and moral degradation of the contemporary urb, and in this both reformist and conservative endeavor he had the backing of the likes of Léon Krier, whom he commissioned to create Poundbury, a town in Cornwall – successful to some, anachronistic to others – where concrete and glass are banned. Later he had the insight to connect the traditionalist discourse to the theme of sustainability, and supported institutions like the now influential and respected Intbau. It remains to be seen if as king Charles will officially remain keen on architecture. Whatever the case, and mistaken or not, his militant stance stands out in the civic anomie that is the standard of the rest of Europe’s royals.


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