Architectural reasons for dumping the Monarchy…?

Poundbury Fire Station, England: HRH Prince Charles, 2009

Unfortunately the Guardian article that brings this rather strange contemporary building to our attention is dated 31st of March – so I have to assume that it isn’t some April Fool’s Day prank. This is, according to the article, the Prince of Wales’ first attempt at architectural design – a fire station in that weird little phenomenon: Poundbury.

Now, there has been some discussion over at the Fish, relating to the employment of Classical architectural language by various regimes throughout history, but HRH’s uptake of the style is much more bizarre than a simple architecture-as-propaganda motive. Here the Prince seems to be waxing nostalgic for a bygone era of – not royal power – but strictly mannered gentility: a romantic yearning for a bygone era that only ever existed for the few who had the good fortune to be born into nobility…

It’s kind of sweet really (the yearning, not the building) – but what are we to make of this out here in the Dominion of New Zealand, whose Head of State may well end up being Prince Charles? Yes, the role is largely symbolic, but does his utopian conservatism symbolically align with our own self-styled egalitarianism? And what of architectural taste? Perhaps we should have invited the Prince to design our Supreme Court (now there would be a symbolic gesture!) – I am sure he would show us colonials a thing or two about domesVitra Campus Fire Station, Zaha Hadid: Germany

Zaha Hadid for head of state perhaps?


9 responses to “Architectural reasons for dumping the Monarchy…?”

  1. Charles or Zaha? – you’re not giving us alot of cheerful options are you – I like a lot of Zaha’s work, especially her drawings – but rumour has it she’s a tough person to work with. Mind you we currently have a PM whose favourite building is Auckland’s skytower …

  2. richard Avatar

    … my vote is for a republic – if his architecture is anything to go by Charles is really telling us that royalty is shallow, impotent, and past its use-by date.

  3. Perhaps the Norwegian architect, Stein Halvorsen, would be more appropriate then…?

  4. thomas Avatar

    Skytower!? Given the width of the grin, I would have thought his favourite work of architecture was that which he is standing in front of featured in the link below…

  5. I’m pretty sure it was the skytower – was in a pre-election issue of Architecture NZ last year – Helen Clark picked the more nostalgic and historic C19th houses on Symonds street currently housing Auckland University Political Studies.

  6. johhny Avatar

    I understand that RIBA will be treated to the latest architectural thoughts of HRH in early May..

    25yrs on from his linking of british architecture to carbuncles…

    We will soon understand where we have all been going wrong……

  7. Katiza Avatar

    There are more monarchies in the world than simply the British Monarchy, and so there are many more styles of Architecture that a Monarch could live in.

    For instance, the King of Lesotho, (Majesty King Letsie III is the first son of the late King Moshoeshoe II and Queen Mother ‘Mamohato Bereng Seeiso.). He has one wife, 3 children, and lives in a lovely palace, befitting his status.

    It does not have a traditional Dome, nor does it look like a Fire Station.

  8. I’m not so sure that extolling the virtues of Zaha’s Fire Station as a superior work to Charles’ Poundbury stolid lump is such a good idea. For instance: presumably, at least, the Poundbury fire station actually can function as a fire station.

    Zaha’s little fire starter has ended up as a…. chair museum, i believe.

  9. Don’t worry – no one is extolling – it was simply the first contemporary fire station that came up in the google image search…

    Despite Zaha’s wonderful support of our newsletter, I am not a committed fan…

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