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RIBA President responds to RIBA Trust Annual Lecture by HRH The Prince of Wales


15 May 2009

Press office contact:

Melanie Mayfield
T: +44 (0)207 307 3662
E: melanie.mayfield@riba.org

Speaking in response to the RIBA Trust Annual Lecture delivered by HRH The Prince of Wales, RIBA President Sunand Prasad said:
"To give the Annual Lecture in its 175th anniversary year the RIBA invited HRH The Prince of Wales as an individual who regularly raises the profile of architectural debate, albeit controversially.  The Prince of Wales' plainly heartfelt and thoughtful speech confirmed that despite significant differences regarding the nature of architecture, there is considerable common ground, particularly in respect of climate change, that it would be irresponsible not to build on.
"Prince Charles' specific comments on modernism and his espousal of an organic / traditional approach are inevitably wide open to interpretation.  The RIBA agrees with his critique of city and neighbourhood planning of the recent past, a critique that was first articulated by modern thinkers. Most architects also share his passion for the order found in nature, and indeed there are large numbers of beautiful 20th and 21st century buildings inspired by new structural and material possibilities that exhibit and celebrate the subtle order found in nature. Recent RIBA Stirling Prize winners and runners-up including Barajas Airport by Rogers Stirk & Harbour, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge by Wilkinson Eyre, The Downland Gridshell by Edward Cullinan Architects, the German Literature Museum by David Chipperfield and Accordia by FCB Studios and colleagues, are highly-acclaimed exemplars of just this quality.  
"Much has changed in the 25 years since Prince Charles last spoke at an RIBA occasion. There are many examples of excellent planning and neighbourhood design that begin to match the ambitions of the path-finding report by Lord Rogers of Riverside: Towards and Urban Renaissance and the work of the Prince's Foundation. Architects have become adept at engaging with and meeting the requirements and aspirations of communities with thoughtfulness, innovation and design quality. The RIBA is passionate about design quality, because it supports our lives and lifts our spirits, and we are working to push it up the political agenda; but there are still too many threats to this ambition: for example from short-sighted policies on procurement and an inability of private and public clients to take the long term view. That is something on which we want to make common cause with the Prince and the Prince's Foundation: quality independent of style.
"The RIBA is committed to joint practical work with the Prince of Wales, and the Prince's Foundation, and is delighted to confirm that it will be delivering four joint seminars in 2010 on aspects of sustainability, climate change and holistic approaches to design.
"This lecture has brought architecture to the top of the media agenda, raised awareness about the Institute's 175th anniversary, and created a platform for the RIBA to communicate with the wider public. The key objectives for the RIBA Trust Annual Lecture have been achieved."
Those who missed the lecture can find a full transcript of HRH The Prince of Wales' speech, and RIBA President Sunand Prasad's response, together with a link to footage of the speech at www.architecture.com.

Notes to editors

For further information please contact Melanie Mayfield in the RIBA Press Office on 020 7307 3662 or email melanie.mayfield@inst.riba.org


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