Thursday, 6 May 2010

Poundbury - back to the future

On a trip to Dorset recently, we drove past Poundbury on the Dorchester bypass.

Overcoming various prejudices, I quite admire the first bit of Poundbury to have been completed. Ok, it's not Hammerby, but compared with most of the pitiful products of the volume housebuilders, it's admirable, at least in terms of built form. As a place to live, it's probably weird - The Prisoner meets The Archers. Check out the Forelocktuggers Arms in the village square, for example.

Poundbury is evidently growing, though - and, I fear, not in a good way. The view from the bypass of the more recent parts reminded me of one of those Leon Krier polemical projects from about thirty years ago. His thinking underpins much of what has happened here. In spite of his unfortunate association with Prince Charles and the latter's strange ideas, Krier's influence, which has been signficant, has in my view done more good than harm over the years. But the sheer oddity of the view from the bypass illustrates the difference between polemic and what should ever be built (compare Le Corbusier and the Ville Radieuse). Whatever the way to build urban extensions is, it's not this.

Happily, we drove on and found the Hive Beach Cafe.

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