At 20, Poundbury is winning converts
Rendering by Ben Pentreath
Since it’s launch in 1993, Prince Charles’s Poundbury development in Dorcester, England, has set the standard as a high-quality, successful new town designed according to New Urbanism. Partly because Charles is the developer and the architecture is traditional and classical, Poundbury has been a lightning rod for criticism in the take-no-prisoners London media.
At 20, its steady excellence is winning converts. The development has 2,500 residents in 1,200 housing units, 35 percent of which are “social housing,” designed to be indistinguishable from the market-rate homes. About 140 businesses, many of them small and paying affordable rents, operate in 400,000 square feet of commercial space. The entire project is now powered by an anaerobic digester using food trimmings, farm waste, and local slurry, according to an article in the Financial Times, How the Poundbury project became a model for innovation. The subtitle further reveals the tone of the piece: "For 20 years, the Prince of Wales’s housing scheme in Dorset has led the way on green energy and social housing." There article includes many great quotes:
Poundbury presents an architecture that tries so hard to be inoffensive, that it is fascinating to watch how offended its critics can get.
It is radical in the world of office parks and leisure centers, industrial estates and cul-de-sac housing, where cars are the only way to get between them and the environment has been sacrificed for the convenience of driving.
It is impossible to find another housing estate built in the past quarter century that is as richly textured, as intricate, as convincing as a whole, and which is getting better not worse with age.
Mixed-use building in Poundbury. Credit@Thompson/Wordley/Alpha