A royal revolution: is Prince Charles’s model village having the last laugh?

A royal revolution: is prince charles's model village having the last laugh?
Butter Cross bakery in Poundbury / © Chris Vile

Poundbury, the Prince of Wales’s traditionalist village in Dorset, has long been mocked as a feudal Disneyland. But a growing and diverse community suggests it’s getting a lot of things right

In a room of raw concrete block walls and exposed steel beams, a man with a long hipster beard takes an order on his iPad and froths up a flat white. Young mums and retired couples sit at long communal tables among Wi-Fi workers. It could be a trendy east London cafe in a repurposed industrial space, but this is the centre of Poundbury, the Prince of Wales’s traditionalist model village in Dorset. And there’s not a doily or tweed jacket in sight.

“It’s not quite what most people expect,” says Ben Pentreath, one of the architects who have been engaged in producing replica Georgian terraces and quaint country cottages here over the last two decades. In jeans and New Balance trainers, the designer isn’t quite what you would expect from a classical architect, either. “For 20 years, this place has been treated as a joke, a whim of HRH,” he says. “But something quietly radical has been going on – and it’s got nothing to do with architecture.”

It is easy to get distracted by the buildings. From flint-clad cottages and Scottish baronial villas to Palladian mansions and miniature pink gothic castles, Poundbury is a merry riot of porticoes and pilasters, mansards and mouldings, sampling from the rich history of architectural pattern books with promiscuous glee. On the outside of its breeze-block walls, Pentreath’s Butter Cross bakery is dressed as an early 19th-century brick gazebo, crowned with a gilded fibreglass orb. It looks on to a little market square, where cast-iron verandahs face off against a creamy rendered terrace, watched over by a neoclassical office block that is raised on an arcaded plinth. It might seem grand for a village square, but it’s nothing compared with the latest set-piece tableau a few streets away, unveiled by the Queen today. […]

Aline Chahine
Aline is an international licensed architect currently practicing in Canada, she is the reason you are reading this right now, Aline founded the platform back in 2008 shaping the very foundation of Architecture Lab, her exemplary content curation process that defines the online magazine today.
Aline Chahine
Aline Chahine
Aline is an international licensed architect currently practicing in Canada, she is the reason you are reading this right now, Aline founded the platform back in 2008 shaping the very foundation of Architecture Lab, her exemplary content curation process that defines the online magazine today. Highlights Aline founded Architecture Lab in 2008 Lead editor of dan | dailyarchnews since 2019 Founded and Creative Director of DesignRaid Licensed architect with creative sales and marketing experience Experience As full-fledged architect, Aline's background involved a great deal of research that lead to the creation of Architecture Lab as an online database of exemplary design. Her experience snowballed into founding two architecture platforms, Architecture Lab and DesignRaid. Education Aline received USEK’s Master of Architecture in 2004 and BA in English from the University of Toronto
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About Architecture Lab Architecture Lab is a MKR.S Media brand, a website devoted to extraordinary design and aesthetics aiming to promote exceptional aesthetic values and sustainable design in all it's shapes and sizes. Learn more about us and our editorial process and feel free to contact us if you would like to see something in particular on the website, our certified experts will get back to you with the most trustworthy advice as soon as possible. Read all articles by Aline | Follow her on LinkedIn

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