The Popularity of 'Boring' Architecture and Planning

In a professional critique of his master plan for the new town of Poundbury in England - one of the first new towns under Prince Charles' Foundation for the Built Environment - Leon Krier reveals that the plan was 'meant to be boring'.
November 10, 2008, 8am PST | Tim Halbur
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"Poundbury is most of all memorable for a slightly banal ordinariness. Krier, who has an answer for almost everything, tells us that this is just the point: Poundbury was meant to be boring, as any urgent expedient for solving a world crisis in housing, building skills and natural resources needs to be.

And in fact at Poundbury there are a surprising number of quite ordinary, or at least subliminally appreciated, things which do succeed. For a start, cars behave themselves, moving slowly in the virtual absence of signage; this is a small battle won against the traffic engineers, even if on ground that was carefully chosen. When stationary, they herd together into the "mews" space behind the houses.

People also seem to be behaving better, even if at times they look a little hunted. In addition, they seem happy to live - in expensive housing - at relatively high densities, and are quick to defend mixed-income occupation.

Above all, Poundbury has become the successful model for suburban development, not for the Duchy of Cornwall alone but for much of the south of England. And as one successful Poundbury builder told me: 'We like it better, too. We can build a house for 10% more and sell it for 30% more.'"

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Published on Friday, November 7, 2008 in bd
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