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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NO ONE CAN SAY THE PRINCE OF WALES DIDN'T TRY, 23 Aug. 2010
By 
W. BUTLER "lost in las vegas" (NEVADA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Vision of Britain: A Personal View of Architecture (Hardcover)
This book duplicates the contents of a BBC TV documentary I remember enjoying 22 years ago in America. In it the printed words and many photographs perfectly capture his ironic musings as to what's caused certain senior British architects to discard all the best characteristics associated with traditional British design in vain attempts to find original design solutions for "The National Theatre", etc.

The general apathy Prince Charles complains about is confirmed by his book having only one review in the last 22 years. However I did hear the architectural establishment was in high dudgeon at the time and made absolutely sure he didn't bother them again. The proof can be seen on either side of the Thames between the Tate Gallery and Tower Bridge. As every new site becomes available you can be absolutely sure another inept ugly building is on its way up.

The most recent insult - Portcullis House - opposite the Houses of Parliament. This weird hybrid reveals all the idiosyncrasies of computed designed architecture. What appears solid on a monitor has a random cartoon quality when built. Its black roof looks as if it were made of enlarged Lego blocks - and sticking-up into the sky are 20 grotesque black chimneys (with unpleasant anatomical associations). Underneath which 3 messy elevations are held together with a pattern of black and white spots. As no human hand or brain put this contraption together (luckily for the architect) no one can be personally held to blame.

Further downstream are 2 massive eyesores in what the Prince refers to as a "transatlantic post-modern style" I.e. imports having no connection with English architecture. Why does the "MI-5" building resemble a collapsed green and cream blancmange? Tristan Edwards's treatise "The Things Which Are Seen" has the full explanation. Namely this symmetrical building fell into all the compositional traps associated with "unresolved dualities".

"London City Hall" was built long after the Prince's book was published but it does help to explain why no English style has emerged in the past 65 years. Only a very stubborn Lord would recycle 1960's developers' standard steel and glass curtain-walling to house the City's bureaucrats. Flatten out the wildly expensive circular form and it replicates a thousand other banal office blocks spec-builders imposed on every British city after WW2.

If there's any fault to be found in the Prince's book it's after the impact of his memorable indignant river trip consoling readers with the modest achievements of reasonable British architects comes as something of anti-climax.

Personally I wish he'd ramp-up his Trafalgar Square crusade (saving The National Gallery) and take every incompetent British architect (and planning authority) to task for not respecting our past. Recent visits suggest the mismatched forms and cucumber shapes sprouting from The City will soon become a National Embarrassment. Are no influential individuals prepared to take up the Prince's cause? Had only a few "who care" followed-up oo the warnings contained in this 22-year-old book the current crop of recalcitrant architects might have been given pause to control their egotistical destructive impulses.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting read, 10 Jun. 2009
By 
Mrs Dinkum (North Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Vision of Britain: A Personal View of Architecture (Hardcover)
This is a really interesting book, which delves into the history of British architecture, how it is changing, and the effects on our surroundings and people.
It has an insert of a painting by Canaletto which gives a view of London around the Thames & St. Pauls area, and images of the tower blocks which have evolved since the 1960s, showing just how much the view has changed.
Also the little paintings and photographs Prince Charles has included are delightful and make this book a pleasure to read, and there is a nice balance between text & pictures.
For anyone interested in the British environment and surroundings this book is a great read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent !, 14 Jun. 2013
This review is from: A Vision of Britain: A Personal View of Architecture (Hardcover)
Excellent book - fully agree ! Why do we leave such architectural horrors to future generations - ugly buildings that hurt the eye and the soul ?!

Deep respect to the Prince of Wales to stand up for Beauty and Harmony, for true human values ......he did try !!!
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A Vision of Britain: A Personal View of Architecture
A Vision of Britain: A Personal View of Architecture by Prince of Wales Charles (Hardcover - 7 Sept. 1989)
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