Prince Of Wales Slams 'Fashionable' Buildings
The Prince of Wales has criticised modern buildings for their "fashionable" designs which quickly date and the "environmentally unfriendly" materials used to construct them.
In a lecture to the country's leading civil engineers, Charles told them that glass, steel and concrete are not sustainably produced.
London's skyline is dominated by buildings featuring these materials, including the Gherkin in the City and the Shard in Southwark - which will become Europe's tallest building when it is completed later this year.
Speaking at an event hosted by the Institute of Civil Engineers (Ice) and planning firm Halcrow, the Prince said: "We build in a short-term manner, creating neither durability nor, for that matter, beauty; thus generating instead a maintenance burden rather than an asset for generations that will follow us.
"Buildings are still too often constructed out of materials that are deeply environmentally unfriendly. Glass, steel, concrete surely all fall into that category because of the embodied energy in their production - especially if they are incorporated into designs that are very much 'in the moment'."
Charles, speaking at the central London headquarters of Ice, added: "I'm afraid, if a building is of a fashionable design today, it almost inevitably condemns it very quickly to becoming unfashionable - tired-looking, outdated, no longer 'contemporary'.
"And so, within 30 or 40 years, sometimes less, they are ripe for demolition and replacement."
The Prince is well-known as a champion of traditional architectural styles over modernist designs and has tried to implement his ideas in his model village, Poundbury in Dorset.
A planning application for a modernist steel and glass development for London's Chelsea Barracks site was dropped by the developer after Charles wrote privately to the company's chairman expressing his concern about what he later described as the "insane" plans.
The letter was the Prince's most outspoken criticism since he described a proposed extension for the National Gallery as "a monstrous carbuncle" in the 1980s, which resulted in the plan being changed.
Charles gave the example of a "natural house" that his Prince's Foundation for Building Community is helping to construct from a range of sustainable products, as an alternative to "energy- guzzling glass boxes" which quickly become unfashionable.
It has a "contemporary yet timeless feel", features insulating and cooling clay blocks and clay tiles, and wool is used to insulate the roof.
The Prince said the building "does not wear its green credentials like a collection of 'eco-bling'."
He also praised the way civil engineers had already begun to work more sustainably.
"Your thinking is creating better systems of supply chains that reduce the carbon impact of new buildings, and indeed, the retrofitting of existing structures," he said.
But he went on to say there was a challenge for the civil engineering industry - to be concerned "not only with how a project might work from a technical point of view, but also how such technology sits within the public realm and how it will affect the communities it touches".
Charles ended by suggesting that the preamble to Ice's Royal Charter, which states that civil engineering is "the art of directing the great sources of power in nature for the use and convenience of man", could be revised.
He said it could expand "a little on the meaning of that word 'art' and, rather than 'directing nature's powers', understand them properly so that we work according to their underlying patterns of behaviour".
"It is, after all, those patterns that sustain nature's precious gifts. And it is surely beholden upon us as never before to preserve those precious gifts for the generations who follow us."