You're going to read an article written by Prince Charles, son of the British Queen, expressing his feelings about architecture in Britain today. Before reading, think of a city you have lived in, or know well, which has a number of modern buildings. How do you feel about them? Make a brief note of your thoughts. Now read the article and see if your views about modern architecture are similar to those of Prince Charles.
For far too long, it seems to me, some planners and architects have consistently ignored the feelings and wishes of the mass of ordinary people. Perhaps, when you think about it, it is hardly surprising, as architects tend to have been trained to design buildings from scratch – to tear down and rebuild. Consequently, a large number of people in Britain have developed a feeling that architects tend to design houses for the approval of fellow architects and critics, not for the tenants.
It has been most encouraging to see the development of Community Architecture as a natural reaction to the policy of decamping people to new towns and overspill estates where the extended family patterns of support were destroyed, and the community life was lost. Now we are seeing the gradual expansion of housing co-operatives, particularly in the inner city areas of Liverpool, where the tenants are able to work with an architect of their own who listens to their comments and their ideas and tries to design the kind of environment they want.
This sort of development, spearheaded as it is by such individuals as Rod Hackney and Ted Cullinan – a man after my own heart, as he believes strongly that the architect must produce something that is visually beautiful as well as socially useful – offers something very promising in terms of inner-city renewal and urban housing, not to mention community garden design.
What I believe is important about Community Architecture is that it has shown ‘ordinary’ people that their views are worth having; that architects and planners do not necessarily have the monopoly of knowing best about taste, style and planning. On that note, I can’t help thinking how much more worthwhile it would be if a community approach could be used in more new projects in London.
It would be a tragedy if the character and skyline of this capital city were to be further ruined, and St Paul’s dwarfed, by yet another giant glass stump in Trafalgar Square, better suited to downtown Chicago than the City of London. It is hard to believe that before the last war, London must have had one of the most beautiful skylines of any great city, if those who recall it are to be believed.
Those who’d say that the affinity between buildings and the earth, in spite of the City’s immense size, was so close and organic that the houses looked almost as though they had grown out of the earth, and had not been imposed upon it – grown moreover, in such a way that as few trees as possible were thrust out of the way.
What, then, are we doing to our capital city now? What have we done to it since the bombing during the Second World War? What are we shortly to do to one of its most famous areas – Trafalgar Square?
Instead of designing an extension to the elegant facade of the National Gallery, which compliments it and continues the concept of columns and domes, it looks as if we may be presented with a kind of municipal fire station, complete with the sort of tower that contains the siren. I would understand better this type of high-tech approach if you demolished the whole of Trafalgar Square and started again with a single architect responsible for the entire layout, but what is proposed is like a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend.
Apart from anything else, it defeats me why anyone wanting to display the early Renaissance pictures belonging to the Gallery should do so in a new gallery so manifestly at odds with the whole spirit of that age of astonishing proportion. Why can't we have those curves and arches that express feeling in design? What is wrong with them? Why has everything got to be vertical, straight, unbending, only at right angles and functional? As Goethe once said, “there is nothing more dreadful than imagination without taste.”
Read the following questions and unfinished statements about the passage. In each case, choose the answer, À, Â, Ñ or D, which you think fits best according to the passage.
1 Why do modern architects frequently ignore the wishes of ordinary people?
A They do not care about what ordinary people think or want.
Â They have not been trained properly.
CThey have been taught to design new buildings to replace older ones.
D They are interested only in impressing fellow-architects.
2 How does the writer explain the development of Community Architecture?
A People did not like living on camp sites while their new homes were built.
Â As an objection to the disruption of families and communities.
Ñ People have designed the environment they want.
D People tried it out in Liverpool and it was seen to be very successful.
3 Community Architecture has shown that
A ordinary people’s ideas are worth more than those of architects.
Â ordinary people should always be consulted by architects.
Ñ architects should not have monopolies.
D architects are not the only ones with good design ideas.
4 How was pre-war architecture in London different from modern architecture?
A Many people recall it as being beautiful.
Â Environmentally-friendly building materials were used.
Ñ Trees were planted around houses.
D Houses blended in with the surroundings.
5 The writer would prefer Trafalgar Square to
A have new architecture in harmony with existing buildings.
Â be left completely untouched by new architecture.
Ñ be re-designed entirely by one architect.
D have more curves and arches than it currently does.
6 In general, what are the writer’s views about architects?
A They should be controlled by local communities.
Â They should be more sensitive to the environment and to people’s wishes.
Ñ They should look to the Renaissance for inspiration when they design buildings.
D They should avoid the use of concrete and glass.
You are going to read a magazine article about shopping on the Internet. Seven paragraphs have been removed from the article. Choose from the paragraphs A-H the one which fits each gap (1-6). There is one extra paragraph which you do not need to use. There is an example at the beginning (0).