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A Slight, Subtle Dig? Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment Critiques New Chelsea Barracks Plans

Remember back in the early summer of 2009 when all eyes were on the raging battle between Prince Charles and Richard Rogers, the former using his stature and influence to remove the latter from the project because it was believed to be too modern for royal blood’s taste? That eventually died down a bit by the end of the year, and save for a few little pieces of news popping up here and there (like in the court hearings about the matter last year and even more recently when the Prince said his critics reporting on his supposed anti-modern bias drive him “insane”), in the end, a new architecture firm was hired for the project and all parties have seemingly gone their separate ways. However, in a very slight, quiet way, there’s been a bit of a bite back recently. Last year you might recall that the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) had its government funding pulled during the massive financial cuts that swept the whole of Britannia. At that time, some critics were crying foul as it appeared the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment was trying to move in to take CABE’s place, helping to oversee the design of buildings in the UK. Since then, CABE has managed to stay afloat by recently securing a partnership with the also-budget-cut Design Council. Got all that? Now late last week, if you read into it and are angling for an angle (which we’re more than happy to do), the newly reinvigorated CABE handed down a number of critiques to the newly submitted plans to the firm in charge, Dixon Jones, Squire & Partners and Kim Wilkie Associates, saying that the development needed to better adapt and grow into the 21st century, instead of just exist in the moment as a “traditional garden square.” Granted, CABE also handed down recommendations for alterations on Richard Roger’s plans, and by and large, they seem to like the new project layout, but we’d like to believe there’s a subtle little dig at work here, whether there is one or not. Here’s a bit from Building Design on CABE’s response to the new plans:

Cabe said it commended the quality of the proposal and welcomed its “elongated squares”, but added that the project needed to be less formalist and more flexible in meeting the “more varied” surrounding area. It also said the proposed development was not ambitious enough in allowing for “a modern, sustainable, low-carbon lifestyle, community engagement and social interaction”.

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