- Hardcover: 160 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (October 21, 1989)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 038526903X
- ISBN-13: 978-0385269032
- Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 11.8 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,210,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Vision of Britain: A Personal View of Architecture Hardcover – October 21, 1989
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Roosevelt was referring to the presidency, of course, but Charles uses his public standing to push for causes he believes in, as with this well written book advocating architectural preservation and standardization.
I spent a year of my life in London in 1980 and I recall my surprise in seeing a beautiful Christopher Wren masterpiece sitting next to a modern business building with no apparent soul. I can identify with Charles' stand on these issues. He is simply advocating in this book that some consideration ought to be given to a new addition to a building or a neighborhood to see that it blends with the old to give a more pleasing aspect that appeals to all the senses.
Architecture is partly defined as an art, partly a science, whose aim is a unifying or coherent form or structure. This then, is the subject of this book.
It is readable and to the point. It should not be judged by Prince Charles life but by the ideas it brings to the table. For whatever one may think of the man himself, his public causes, including this one, have merit no matter who is the advocate. If you are interested in this cause in any way, you'll find this argument compelling. It doesn't just apply to Great Britain. Designers of the new Freedom Tower in Manhattan faced these same issues when deciding on a replacement for the World Trade Center. But we've seen it here in Oklahoma City in the downtown revitalization projects going on today.
This book has appeal across the boards.
Strangely and sadly, few with any clout today have the courage or the incentive to speak out on what really is a very important part of our lives, the built environment. It is neither politically correct to do so, nor does it show "openness" to new styles, avant-garde sensibilities, nor acceptance of business-oriented "economic growth" as the overall concern. Indeed, as to the last, post-war politicians 1945-Present brazenly sell out beauty, pedestrian nature, and unique cultures of the world, and now so on both sides of the iron curtain. The cities' and the people who [formerly] enjoyed them are sold out by the politicians to the global economy barons, who have their and their friends estates and villas to carouse in, and can Lear jet to the still remaining old centres of Paris, Copenhagen, Vienna etc., and don't give a hoot about the explosion of suburban sprawl and big box stores on the outskirts of town destroying Main Street.
The powers that be have sold us out and betrayed us. Almost all of us pretend not to notice the ever-advancing onslaught. "One shouldn't be negative..." and "You can't fight 'progress.' " you hear said constantly today, as though it were a mantra that through repetition and mutual conversational agreement, our own consciences are assuaged, and we need not bestir ourselves to cry out against the destruction of pedestrian human-scale cityscapes.
Yet the Prince does not believe all is lost. He is in the front line. You can search engine "Poundsbury, England" to see what he has done in this new town he caused to be built from nothing in former pastures in land he, as Prince of Wales, inherited. Poundsbury shows us in 3 beautiful and pedestrian dimentions that all is far from hopeless in architecture and city planning of the future. In the Greek myth of Pandora's Box, Hope was the last of the human attributes to escape when Pandora opened the box. The Prince in so many ways (not just in his crusade for human-scale pedestrian architecture and city planning) has caught that Hope. Poundsbury shows that we CAN build the type towns and cities that people truly love and treasure, just like they were built 200 or 1,000 years ago. (Well almost. They allow cars in Poundsbury centre, something that London, Paris, and other cities have substantially curtailed in recent years by charging £40 per car to enter the centres proper, which keeps the vast majority of cars out, an excellent accomplishment.
A VISION OF BRITIAN should be a textbook in all secondary and high schools core curriculum, taught concurrent of just after the politics course. It should be part of a required first year course in all architecture, civil engineering, political [science], and city planning schools. Some of it is a bit dry and technical, and more entertaining to read if you are a Brit and know the buildings, parts of London, and UK towns he uses for most examples. But if you read one chapter each night, you will come away stronger and more committed to the cultural values the Prince is advocating, honouring, and instilling with this book. Einstein said, "The quality of an idea is proportional to the violent opposition it evokes from feeble minds." The Prince of Wales has, unfortunately, proven Einstein quite right. The leaders of the global, big business economy, with their employed ministers, journalists, and gurus, clearly staunchly oppose almost every principal the Prince advances. And yet Prince Charles does not retreat or bow even slightly to these powerful individuals. He speaks from his heart; he speaks the truth. Bravo!