Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Prince Charles on land development: too much common sense to ever take hold in Florida? … by gimleteye

Three cheers for Prince Charles, "Facing up to the future: on 21st century architecture". It may be too late but worth noting how much of Prince Charles' intellectual energy comes from right here, through one of the founders of the new urbanism movement, Andres Duany, and his colleagues. Interesting that so much brilliance in re-thinking urbanism was born in Miami. Next time you are stuck in traffic, fuming, look no further than crony capitalism congealed around fast buck development to understand why.

Here are Prince Charles' ten principles:

Developments must respect the land. They should not be intrusive; they should be designed to fit within the landscape they occupy.

Architecture is a language. We have to abide by the grammatical ground rules, otherwise dissonance and confusion abound. This is why a building code can be so valuable.

Scale is also key. Not only should buildings relate to human proportions, they should correspond to the scale of the other buildings and elements around them. Too many of our towns have been spoiled by casually placed, oversized buildings of little distinction that carry no civic meaning.

Harmony − the playing together of all parts. The look of each building should be in tune with its neighbours, which does not mean creating uniformity. Richness comes from diversity, as Nature demonstrates, but there must be coherence, which is often achieved by attention to details like the style of door cases, balconies, cornices and railings.

The creation of well-designed enclosures. Rather than clusters of separate houses set at jagged angles, spaces that are bounded and enclosed by buildings are not only more visually satisfying, they encourage walking and feel safer.

Materials also matter. In the UK, as elsewhere, we have become dependent upon bland, standardized building materials. There is much too much concrete, plastic cladding, aluminium, glass and steel employed, which lends a place no distinctive character. For buildings to look as if they belong, we need to draw on local building materials and regional traditional styles.

Signs, lights and utilities. They can be easily overused. We should also bury as many wires as possible and limit signage. A lesson learned from Poundbury is that it is possible to rid the street of nearly all road signs by using ‘events’ like a bend, square or tree every 60-80 metres, which cause drivers to slow down naturally.

The pedestrian must be at the centre of the design process. Streets must be reclaimed from the car.

Density. Space is at a premium, but we do not have to resort to high-rise tower blocks which alienate and isolate. I believe there are far more communal benefits from terraces and the mansion block. You only have to consider the charm and beauty of a place like Kensington and Chelsea in London to see what I mean. It is often forgotten that this borough is the most densely populated one in London.

Flexibility. Rigid, conventional planning and rules of road engineering render all the above instantly null and void, but I have found it is possible to build flexibility into schemes and I am pleased to say that many of the innovations we have tried out in the past 20 years are now reflected in national engineering guidance, such as The Manual For Streets.


Anonymous said...

oh for a little royal common sense around here!

Anonymous said...

Ground floor amenities are the newest craze. Research "A Condo Tower is Going in This 50-Foot Deep Oceanfront Hole"

Putting large amounts of elevator, parking, and electrical below sea level. Not smart but the cities are allowing it.