European citizens these days, you are probably interested in environmental
issues. You recycle all your tins and bottles, your house is beautifully
insulated, and your refrigerator has a five star energy rating. Just a few
years ago you protested about a proposed new development on the meadows just
outside your town or city. Your new car has better fuel economy than the
last and a catalyser in the exhaust, and you have changed to an organic
olive oil from Italy and organic greens from Hungary.
that cities are much less dense and polluted than they were a century ago.
Urban air quality is better, and river water is cleaner, without a doubt.
Cities are greener and less dense, and support a diversity of plant and
animal life that is missing from many of the large scale farmed landscapes
In your city,
the historic buildings are beautifully preserved, and attract a seasonal run
of tourists. Nobody has proposed an inner-city motorway for years, though it
was obvious that the inner relief road had to be built, and you didn't
oppose that. After all, the sound barriers even won an architectural award.
At home, your
garden is the joy of your life, and you silently thank your decision to move
to a village within reach of the city, where you have room to compost your
leaves and let the dog run about in the garden. After all, it's only a short
drive to your work in an award-winning environmentally sensitive office park
built last year on some degraded farmland.
So far, so
good. But meanwhile troubling things seem to be happening at the edges of
your daily life. Probably like many you find that your waist measurement has
increased a bit in recent years, and despite your reasonable
efforts, you find that it doesn't seem to go decrease as easily as it
increases, though you are sure that you are eating less fat these days. Or
perhaps you are younger and slimmer, and live in an outer suburb where you
are struggling to balance your income against the cost of running the
second, second-hand car which was necessary for your partner to get the kids
to school and the shopping back from the supermarket. If you are a student,
pensioner or on a low income, you have doubtless noticed that the cost of
filling up your two cars has become a serious part of your monthly budget.
Your bank and
post office closed their branches in your village or suburb a year or two
ago, but it's only a short drive of a couple of miles to much better shops.
And anyway your shops aren't much good since the local deli was taken over
by a mini-supermarket chain. Probably you now only shop once a week, and
refrigerate or freeze the bargains you buy at a 5,000 square metre
supermarket somewhere on the outskirts of your city, out near the business
park, entertainment centre and car dealership. Maybe you've decided that it
is easier to shop at the new IKEA than to struggle through the traffic into
the central city, find a car park and then to trudge between several
old-fashioned furniture stores looking for what you wanted. And besides,
IKEA is much cheaper. It's amazing how much cheaper consumer goods are these
days, though few things seem to be made here now.
But then there
was that disagreeable person at a dinner party or conference recently, who
asked why you had two cars, when oil reserves were low and ozone levels so
high? And why you didn't move to the inner city? You argued of course that
you had to have a car, because otherwise you couldn't get through your day,
with so many different journeys needing to be made - children to schools and
shops, parents to their jobs, picking up the dry-cleaning on the way home -
how could you possibly give up your car?
And anyway, you have a bicycle, a mountain bike, which you ride at the
weekend, well sometimes. Besides, everyone at the dinner knew you to be an
environmentally responsible citizen, so there was no need to justify
Yet the doubts
remain, and you fear that your working life is extending its reach, at the
expense of relaxation and sleep. You seem to be spending more and more of
your day sitting in traffic. You notice that each car has only one person in
it. You thought
taking the bus, but where you live the service is quite limited, and anyway
you need to go the gym some nights, and that's several miles off the bus
Does all this
sound familiar? If it is, then you are living the lifestyle of Modernist
urbanism. Is it inevitable? Is it the spirit of the age? Some people think
not, and I am one of them.
2. The Prince
of Wales's architectural interests
In 1984 the
Prince of Wales, the heir to the British throne, was invited to address the
150th anniversary dinner of the Royal Institute of British Architects
(RIBA). The reasons for the invitation aren't clear, but it's possible that
RIBA thought of the work of Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria, who in
the early years of her reign had done much to advance the cause of
architecture and planning. Perhaps the Prince of Wales had already expressed
some interest in architecture.
was expected, what the RIBA heard on the evening of
30 May 1984
was profoundly shocking. Instead of the bland encomium they might have
expected to hear in the august surroundings of
Court Palace, they received a dressing-down on the state of architecture in
Britain. The speech, apparently written by the Prince himself and against
the advice of his courtiers, started off innocuously enough as the Prince
people are beginning to see that it is possible, and important in human
terms, to respect old buildings, street plans and traditional scales and at
the same time not to feel guilty about a preference for facades, ornaments
and soft materials. At last, after witnessing the wholesale destruction of
Georgian and Victorian housing in most of our cities, people have begun to
realise that it is possible to restore old buildings and, what is more, that
there are architects willing to undertake such projects...”
followed a short account of community planning, then emerging as a practical
means of dealing with complex problems, notably on the sprawling Modernist
council estates that are such a feature of the British landscape:
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; that they need not be made to feel guilty or ignorant if
their natural preference is for the more 'traditional' designs - for a small
garden, for courtyards, arches and porches…”
'porches' in this section perhaps indicates some influence from the US,
where construction of the
of Seaside in Florida had begun in 1981. Seaside included 'coding' for urban
requiring houses to open to the street with neighbourly traditional
'porches', as Americans would term a verandah. But then the Prince reached
the crux of his speech, talking of current proposals for Trafalgar Square
that would have seen significant enclosing buildings demolished and replaced
with a disparate variety of Modernist buildings:
“It is hard
to imagine that London before the last war must have had one of the most
beautiful skylines of any great city, if those who recall it are to be
believed… What, then, are we doing to our capital city now? What have we
done to it since the bombing during the 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 complements it
and continues the concept of columns and domes […] what is proposed is like
a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend.”
the fact that the phrase 'monstrous carbuncle' instantly became common
parlance, the influence of the speech was both profound and long lasting.
The first to feel the effect of the speech was the architectural firm Ahrens
Burton and Koralek (ABK), designers of the then proposed addition to the
National Gallery. Their project, which had included an underpass from
Trafalgar Square and a façade including large amounts of blue painted steel
tubing, was promptly dropped. Indeed, ABK found it difficult to get work for
several years afterwards. But much of the initial response was positive, as
architects examined their consciences. Some blamed developers, others
planners. Many adopted a kind of Thatcherite mannerist classicism as a house
style. Others fumed at what they argued was unwarranted interference by an
In 1989 came
'A Vision of Britain', a book and television programme produced with the
assistance of a wide range of collaborators. The three part series examined
a range of architectural and design issues, with the Prince arguing that
designers should work to public tastes rather than seek to impose their
values on society. The programme was not wholly negative, and it is often
forgotten that the list of buildings for which he indicated approval
included a number of humanist Modernist projects such as the Tate Gallery in
St Ives, Cornwall, by Eldred Evans and David Shalev.
In the same
year the Prince arranged for some of his advisors to begin a series of
Summer Schools. These schools went under a variety of names. The first two
were known as 'The Prince of Wales's Summer School in Civil Architecture',
later ones as 'The Prince of Wales's European Summer School' or 'The Prince
of Wales's American Summer School'. The last two (1998 and 1999) were not
formally organised as summer schools, but rather run as an extension to the
Graduate Programme. The success of these events led to a rapid and perhaps
unplanned expansion of the Prince's activities in architecture.
The Prince of
Wales's Institute of Architecture (PoWIA) opened at Gloucester Gate, in
September 1992, in a pair of rambling, run-down Regency houses - formerly a
kindergarten - fronting Regent's Park at the edge of grimy Camden Town just
outside central London. The PoWIA (or 'Princestitute' as it was know to
students) ran a one-year Foundation Course in Architecture and the Building
Arts and a three-year Graduate Programme in Architecture that eventually led
to the RIBA Part 2 qualification, together with a wide public programme of
lectures and exhibitions.|
t was the
latter - the exhibitions - which led to its eventual downfall. Student work
at any level is rarely of a standard that impresses the public, but this
work was expected to carry the weight of the Prince's architectural agenda.
By the early 1990s Thatcherite classicism was wearing thin in the public
imagination, and Modernist architects had rounded to attack the Prince's
interests. The hapless students bore the brunt of it, quite unfairly. End of
year exhibitions at the PoWIA were reviewed in a hostile press as if they
were the work of seasoned practitioners. This was the period in which the
Prince's marriage was the stuff of salacious rumour and the courtiers found
themselves attacked on all sides. The 'Princestitute' was a ready target,
and by 1996 the Graduate Course was slated for closure. Regent's Park
(despite the building's linoleum and chipboard legacy of the kindergarten
years) was seen as too prestigious a location, and various warehouses in
regenerating parts of London were investigated as alternatives. It was
widely reported that the PoWIA had closed for ever.
organisation tended to arise, Hydra-like, every time it had apparently been
killed off and laid to rest. The PoWIA merged with the Urban Villages Forum
(UVF) - a membership organisation under the Prince's patronage - and
Regeneration Through Heritage (RTH) - a successful initiative run by Fred
Taggart in Business In The Community (BITC, another patronage organisation
involving commerce in regeneration) in 1998 to form The Prince's Foundation
for Architecture and the Building Arts (TPF). The school was then known for
a short time as 'School
of Architecture and the Building Arts'. The Graduate Programme closed in
July 1998, and the school transferred to a newly renovated warehouse in
trendy Shoreditch in January 2000. The remaining Foundation Course in
Architecture and the Building Arts - highly rated even by Modernist
architecture schools but very expensive to run - closed in July 2001.|
TPF was a
disparate group of initiatives that nevertheless found a curiously effective
synergy under the banner 'working
to connect the art of building and the making of community'. Run by the
ambitious David Lunts, and working with Regional Development Authorities and
other bodies, the Foundation pursued regeneration projects across the length
and breadth of England and Wales. Using techniques such as the Charrette
(known in the UK as Enquiry By Design or EBD) drawn from American New
Urbanist practice, the Foundation developed a reputation for successful
public consultation and regeneration of depressed industrial areas.
At the same
time, new educational initiatives sprang up to replace the abandoned
Foundation Course. The Prince of Wales's Drawing School began a series of
successful drawing classes at levels from amateur to professional and an MA
in Fine Art. The Visual Islamic and Traditional Arts school, started by
Professor Keith Critchlow at the Royal College of Art in 1985 and which had
loosely adhered to the PoWIA, now occupied half a floor, hidden behind the
handsome library. A programme awarding scholarships to enable practising
tradesmen and women to perfect their skills in traditional building crafts
was quietly initiated. Short courses in new urbanism drew on links with the
US New Urbanist movement. Despite all this, a prevailing short-termism and
reactive style of management - following Government and Press agendas rather
than creating them - led to considerable insecurity.
In 2003 David
Lunts moved to a new position in the Government's Office of the Deputy Prime
Minister (ODPM), the successor to the Department for the Environment. Run by
bullish Yorkshireman and former unionist John Prescott, the ODPM sought to
address the burgeoning growth of London and the South East by recourse to
new traditional urbanism, then developing in Europe under the leadership of
Léon Krier and in the US by the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU). Drawing
in prominent transatlantic urbanist Paul Murrain, the Foundation sought to
position itself as the organisation best able to deliver these policies. In
fact it was quite clear that it was the only such organisation, as the
Modernist architectural establishment - practitioners and schools - had
repeatedly shown itself to be resolutely opposed to all such things. By
2003, the team had grown in ability and size and was ready to take on large
scale projects, including large urban extensions to Harlow, Northampton,
Cherry Knowle in Sunderland and Aldershot.
We now need to
backtrack to 1990, in order to follow the development of Poundbury, the
urban extension presaged in A Vision of Britain and which was quietly
developing while Press attention was focused on events in London.
The Duchy of
Cornwall, a huge area of manorial lands in the rich south west of England
was granted to the Prince of Wales in the 14th century to provide the heir
to the throne with a source of income. By 1990 it had become somewhat of a
backwater, with high unemployment in
itself and small market towns elsewhere well out of the range of London
commuters. Nevertheless, expansion of these towns continued in a modest
manner, usually following the construction of bypasses. One such was at
Dorchester, county town of Dorset. In the mid 1980s the Prince had been
invited to open a development just inside the bypass. Entirely conventional
in the worst manner, this large expanse of undistinguished suburban building
led him to declare that it should never happen again in the Duchy.
gradually became the most favoured places in which to reside as better roads
made them able to attract a wider range of activities from nearby towns and
villages. Dorchester needed to grow more, and from 1990 it was planned to
expand to the west. The Prince took a keen interest, and engaged Léon Krier
to masterplan the settlement. Krier had emerged in the 1970s as an
increasingly focussed critic of Modernist architecture. Aided by cartoonish
sketches in the manner of Corbusier, Krier lampooned the desperately stylish
attempts of Modernism to remain 'cool' and controversial.
working with the engineers Alan Baxter Associates, Krier planned a series of
neighbourhoods within 5 minutes walk of local services. Streets bent and
twisted to reduce vehicle speeds to 20 mph without a single traffic sign.
Houses were built up to the street alignments to define and enclose public
space. Parking was hidden in quiet courtyards behind the houses.
Architecture mirrored regional styles, with a sober and carefully regulated
palette of colours and materials.|
launched into the great property slump of 1992, in which those in the South
East saw hundreds of thousands of pounds wiped off the value of their homes
in a matter of weeks. Repossessions were widespread. Poundbury looked like a
through the 1990s, economic growth came back to the south of England,
gradually at first and then in a flood. Now where to put all the people who
wanted to live in commuter range of
became a pressing problem. Some - suffering perhaps from amnesia of the
1960s and the problems that such structures had brought - advanced
futuristic skyscrapers as the solution, but it was not a popular choice.
Suddenly, attention focussed on Poundbury, which had been growing at double
conventional density with a high degree of market acceptance. From the butt
of Modernist jokes ('toy town', 'Disneyland' and so on) Poundbury suddenly
became a model for the future development of British towns and villages.
This is the demand that the Foundation's team under Paul Murrain is
attempting to satisfy.
INTBAU - for International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture &
Urbanism - was a working name we used during the development period that
stuck before any of us could think of something a bit more zippy. It sounds
vaguely Teutonic, though my German friends say it sounds like the name of a
scaffolding company. My mother, something of a Francophile, suggested that
we add the word "environment" to the mix to make INTBEAU, but this was
rejected by the Steering Committee and the acronym stayed. We'd welcome
suggestions for improvement, but recognise that we have over three years of
worldwide publicity under this name, and that it would be a difficult change
to make with our limited resources.
project which led to the establishment of the organisation was the
initiative of Ben Bolgar, Robert Adam and several others after the Vision of
Europe conference and exhibition entitled "The Other Modern" held in Bologna
in March 2000. I was appointed in September 2000 and funded by Norwegian
property investor Petter Olsen.
directed by a 14-person international management committee including a
Briton, a Scot, a German, a Norwegian, a Portuguese, an Italian and an
Egyptian. Some of the committee members 'double up' nationalities and thus
we have a Cuban-American, a Polish-Norwegian, a Portuguese-Luxembourgeois
and a Bosnian-New Zealander. I am Australian, and though I'm now resident in
the UK I nominally represent Australia, though we also have some good
contacts there. We are currently in the process of registering as a Charity
(non-profit) in the UK and HRH The Prince of Wales has agreed to become our
showed that there was no international organisation aiming to do what we
wanted to do. Existing international organisations were dominated, I felt,
by an outdated formalised academic approach that stultified new work on old
buildings and isolated research in academia. Thus the International
Conference On Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) while doing valuable work in
listing and restoring ancient buildings actually promotes Modernist
interventions in historic areas, as do ICCROM, UNESCO and similar treaty
organisations. Academic organisations like the US-based Vernacular
Architecture Forum remain strictly devoted to historical study, while the
Berkeley-based International Association for the Study of Traditional
Environments (IASTE) - a promising title I'm sure you'll agree, and an
organisation which originally did what the name suggests and studied
traditional environments - now seems hopelessly captured by the academic
jargon of post-modernism. Nevertheless at the national level there were a
series of promising partner organisations, which I'll mention shortly.
traditional architecture and urbanism movement has been quite successful in
the States already, in other countries traditional design is suppressed by
the infiltration of self-appointed 'experts' with a particular Modernist
design agenda. There is little opportunity for democratic choice in the
housing market in many European countries, for instance, and most housing
development is passed through governmental planning and design filters which
actively promote Modernist solutions. There is not the element of choice
that has been so useful to the US movement, and often little tradition of
citizen involvement in planning of new developments.
The results of
this rigid expert-based approach is not readily seen by decision-makers, as
they typically reside in the historic centres of cities that have in the
last 30 years become the residential areas of choice for those in
architecture and planning. These remain compact, walkable and richly endowed
with excellent urbane historic buildings, usually very well protected and
maintained. If you are one of the influential elite then new building and
new urban growth happens somewhere else and to someone else. Development on
the fringe - which follows US sprawl typologies more or less explicitly - is
out of sight of the influential members of society. This urban pattern, of
wealthy centre and poor peripheries is also the norm in Australia/New
Zealand, neither of which has suffered the city centre decay common in the
US. But more of this later in this paper.
We felt that
the need for an organisation that advances the cause of traditional design
was pressing in much of the world. INTBAU aims to facilitate this cause by
linking together both interested individuals and existing national
organisations, and providing a supportive environment for isolated
practitioners. We work closely with the a range of organisations worldwide,
including the Traditional Architecture Group (UK), Institute for Classical
Architecture & Classical America, Congress for the New Urbanism, Council for
European Urbanism, A Vision of Europe, Byens Fornyelse, The Prince’s
Foundation, Urban Conservation in Islamic Settlements (UCIS), and an
Australasian group known as Urbanism DownUnder (UDU).
One of the
early tasks of the Management Committee was to formulate a Charter (see
inset) which defined our mission. It's pretty much self-explanatory and has
been described as "innocuous"! It is however a most succinct expression of
International Network for
Building, Architecture & Urbanism
is an active network of individuals and institutions dedicated to the
creation of humane and harmonious buildings and places that respect
- - -
allow us to recognise the lessons of history, enrich our lives and offer
our inheritance to the future. Local, regional and national traditions
retain the uniqueness of communities in the advance of globalisation. Through tradition we can preserve our sense of identity and counteract
social alienation. People must have the freedom to maintain their
Traditional buildings and places maintain a balance with nature and
society that has been developed over many generations. They enhance our
quality of life and are a proper reflection of modern society.
Traditional buildings and places can offer a profound modernity beyond
novelty and look forward to a better future.
brings together those who design, make, maintain, study or enjoy
traditional building, architecture and places. We will gain strength,
significance and scholarship by association, action and the
dissemination of our principles.
- - -
research phase, various people advised us not to use the word 'tradition',
as the term was felt to play into the hands of our opponents who believed
that tradition was a stuffy old-fashioned sounding word with bad
associations. We thought differently, and eventually realised that it
actually defined our philosophy very neatly. Partly from a desire to be
clear, and also because all the alternatives were horrible mealy-mouthed, we
chose to adopt the name as self-identification.
not a static or fixed idea. The word has roots in the Latin "tradere" to
hand on: it's a dynamic thing. Traditions can be modern, and you can invent
new ones, as Eric Hobsbawm's seminal 1983 work "The Invention of Tradition"
made clear. To be a tradition something simply has to be mutually agreed,
based in the past, consciously handed on, and sustainable. Traditions enable
the definition of cultural difference.
It's hard to imagine archaeologists making much headway in interpreting
cultures without tradition. Though the definition of tradition is seen by
some to be recursive, it is hard to define in any other way.
problem facing traditional architects is that Modernists now occupy most of
the university chairs and most of the government departments regulating
building around the world. Most of the codes and regulations in existence
have been written by Modernists. These are often surprisingly explicit at
banning traditional architecture, even in conservation zones. In
Modernist-dominated architectural schools, history is taught as dead
material not a resource for design. Conversely, Modernist architecture -
once a vital movement concerned with improving living standards - has become
at once ossified, self-referential and obsessed with novelty.
claims of its supporters, Modernism is
the only contemporary style, as it's self evidently true that anything we do
today is modern. We deny that there is one 'spirit of the age' to which art
and architecture must adhere. We cannot anticipate where history will take
us, or how it will be written: to do so is simple teleology. Modernism has
become overly concerned with novelty at the expense of continuity, and styles in the Modernist academy changed as rapidly as those of
Nike sneakers. Globalised architectural firms created their own 'brands':
having a Gehry, a Koolhaas, a Libeskind or a Foster became as important to
cities as for a teenager to have the right mobile phone. Modernism claims
to be revolutionary, even as it serves the worst of Western corporations.
vital and international, it is increasingly
a reactionary and conventional response perfectly attuned to the needs of
universalism has devolved to a confusion of private languages impermeable to
interrogation by the public.
Contemporary teaching of architecture gives too much emphasis to stylistic
concerns, is carried out in the absence of engagement with the public.
Design is taught independently from the teaching of architectural history
and design, and alienates students who want to learn about traditional
design. We think it's time for change.
and Local Identity
is a clearly a force to be reckoned with for proponents of traditional
architecture and urbanism. Certainly it appears to be
stay, and has some benefits, not least travel and communications. But it has
important side effects that threaten communities and cultures around the
world. The international market means that production is more mobile than
are most workers. Volkswagen may well decide to make its cars in Poland, for
example, but most Western European countries have enacted restrictive
legislation against immigration by Poles even when they become members of
the expanded EU. Capital will locate production in the places where labour
is cheapest. Recently this principle has begun to affect the more repetitive
and straightforward of professional tasks. Architectural drafting, legal
searches, engineering calculations and others have recently been relocated
to India and China, sending a cold wind through the middle classes.
Conversely, those whose position in the economic ant heap means they are
mobile, tend to choose locations in the most attractive traditional cities
also increasingly important in a globalising world of increasing
homogeneity. Traditions are constructed as part of group identity, providing
a meaningful point of differentiation for local regions. It offers
individuals an identity and a means of defining their own culture. It can be
a peaceful means for local communities to resist the effects of
globalisation by regional differentiation, and preserves dignity in the face
of global hegemony by powerful countries and corporations.
cities are threatened by the spread of globalised architectural styles
originating in the major economies of the industrialised world. Traditional
craftsmanship is endangered by building designs in which construction is
reduced to repetitive assembly of industrialised components by unskilled
workers. Instead of cultural and contextual sensitivity we see senior
Modernist practitioners attempt to create what amounts to globalised or
'branded' architectural styles.
maintenance of traditional buildings is a central strategy for many
successful cities and regions distinguishing themselves in the new global
economy. These cities know that traditional buildings help to create an
environment that attracts highly mobile skilled labour, and provide
flexibility for adaptation and change to accommodate the networks of small
inter-related enterprises that characterise successful economies. In less
successful regions, traditional building, architecture and urban design
skills are urgently needed to repair and maintain historic cities, towns and
landscapes. Tradition also offers a means of maintaining the individuality
and strength of local economies in the face of economic pressure to lower
the cost of production.
Atelier Neumarkt Dresden 2001
Late in 2000,
Gessellschaft Historischer Neumarkt Dresden
(GHND, Association for the Historic Dresden Newmarket), founded by Berlin
architect Rüdiger Patzschke and others, approached INTBAU to help them find
architects sympathetic to traditional architecture to join the Dresdeners
and their friends in the UK and abroad in the international campaign for a
reconstruction of the Neumarkt in traditional style. Groups of architects
visited Dresden in March to be briefed about the history of the city and the
Neumarkt, and to be allocated a site for a project.
prepared exemplary design proposals in the Dresden style for sites where the
original buildings could not be accurately documented, and for which some
interpretation was required. The designs were presented at a press
conference held in Dresden on
4 May 2001,
attended by members of GHND, representatives of INTBAU, and several of the
participating architects. HRH The Prince of Wales issued a statement that
was read out at the press conference. In the first weeks of June 2001,
of A Vision of Europe
involved his students at the
Ferrara in producing a plan for the whole Neumarkt area, based on the
designs for individual buildings presented on 4 May. The student project
clarified the master plan for the reconstruction and established
the viability of the scheme.
involvement and that of the Prince drew attention to the issue and
strengthened the resolve of those arguing for a historic reconstruction.
The most recent proposal for the area, by Prisco, includes historic
reconstructions for a number of facades. Archaeological reconstruction of
the first of a number of Leitbau in the area has also recently begun.
Summer School, Fredrikstad 2002
shipyard in Fredrikstad was an economic victim of the recent movement of
shipbuilding and ship repair to the Far East, and the site of the abandoned
shipyard has remained largely vacant since 1989. The 2,500 jobs lost by the
closure - largely skilled manual workers - have been replaced on the site by
2,500 new jobs in high-tech manufacturing, office and tertiary study, but
the new buildings containing these uses occupy less than 5% of the site
area. The sprawling town, though only 1 hour by car or rail from the
capital Oslo, is not considered a desirable
place to live by Norwegians and there is little inward migration and no
population growth, despite progressive environmental policies.
site is located on the island of Kråkerøy, across a narrow canal from the
city centre, and suffers from difficult access by road. A new pedestrian
bridge associated with recent masterplan based on luxury apartments has been
constructed, but the plan is in abeyance following poor sales. A proposed
new road bridge funded by the state will improve access to the site but
there is no indication of when it will be implemented. It is also apparent
that at current rates of growth the shipyard site would take many years to
in the INTBAU Summer School devised a strategy for flexible subdivision and
disposal of land that could be adapted to changing market conditions over
time. Central to the proposal - originated by the participants, and since
developed further - is a walkable
street network. The site lies between outlying suburbs and the city centre
and the construction of a linking road through the site would allow a
shorter journey for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians to the existing city
centre. The generation of movement of people is central to the strategy for
activating the site.
includes both waterfront sites and sites for apartment blocks. All buildings
will be in timber framed construction, for reasons of sustainability and so
that they may easily be relocated should it become desirable to build to a
higher density in future.
amount of commercial space in the development is located on the main
movement spine, and placed so that the majority of new buildings are within
400m, or a five minutes' walk of most residential sites. The efficiency of
the connected street layout in reducing walking distances is marked in
comparison to adjoining post-war suburbs with their dendritic street
The scheme was
presented to the site owners and municipality both at the summer school and
again in December 2002 following further development of the scheme. Both
owner and municipality are enthusiastic about the ideas shown, which have
changed their view of the potential of the site. Further development of the
proposal is expected in the future.
Development Workshop, Laslea 2003
is the fertile elevated plateau bounded by the
that forms the centre of the European country of Romania, bounded by
Moldova, Ukraine, Hungary, Serbia and Bulgaria. Romania's 22 million
inhabitants have amongst the lowest per capita incomes in Europe. Poverty
means that few chemicals are used, and the landscapes are rich in species -
from butterflies and wildflowers to European Lynx, bears and wolves - which
have entirely vanished from much of
Europe. Similarly, there are thousands of villages entirely
preserved from the destructive planning of the 20th century.
will join the European Union in the next few years, and the landscape and
villages will be subject to huge developmental and social pressures. INTBAU
went to Transylvania to work with other charitable
organisations to help one village plan for the future. The intention is to
carry the planning work forward over the next two years to create a series
of pilot planning projects in advance of the arrival of the industrial
agriculture, rural depopulation and sprawl urbanism common elsewhere in the
Villages of Transylvania are named after the so-called 'Saxons' (from the
Rhein-Mosel region, near present-day Luxembourg) who were invited to settle
from the 12th century and initially established seven towns which controlled key routes and transport
links. In ensuing centuries the group developed hundreds of villages based
on a mediaeval system of land division comprising a series of long narrow
plots fronting onto a single wide main street.
belonged to an individual villager, and houses were built in distinct and
ancient pattern with houses abutting the northern boundary of each site
opening to a walled courtyard on the south. Behind the house, stables
and barns closed the courtyard, beyond which the villagers established
vegetable gardens, orchards and crops, typically finishing with a row of
walnut trees. Behind the plots, on the upper valley sides, was located
common land including grazing, terraces for grapes, orchards and hay, with
managed woodland on the higher hills. This pattern was maintained
continuously during seven centuries.
German Army in 1944 took some Saxons with it, beginning an exodus that
accelerated during the ensuing 45 years of Communist rule. Impoverished
Romania 'sold' emigrants to West Germany, which accepted all ethnic Germans
under the laws of 1913, then still intact. After the collapse of the
Ceausescu regime in 1989, most remaining Saxons took advantage of these laws
and returned to Germany. Today only 10% of a post-war population of 800,000
remain. Those moving to the area now include Romanians moving from the
cities after the collapse of state industries, holiday-home buyers and Roma
Transylvanian Village Development Workshop, organised with the assistance of
the Norwegian Foundation for Architecture and Urbanism (Byens Fornyelse) was
held in the mediaeval village of Laslea, administrative centre of the
of Laslea, Transylvania, Romania, in late summer 2003. INTBAU collaborated
with a range of existing organisations including the Norwegian Directorate
for Cultural Heritage, the local municipality and the British Charity Mihai
Eminescu Trust (MET), supported by HRH The Prince of Wales, who has visited
Transylvania several times. Local partners in the Workshop included the
Municipality of Laslea, and the local community whose hospitality and
enthusiasm was greatly appreciated. The workshop project was funded by The
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Norwegian Directorate for
Heritage, Byens Fornyelse and private sponsors.
The purpose of
the INTBAU Transylvanian Development Workshop project was to assist the
development of the Saxon villages, with emphasis on ecological tourism and
organic farming. The participants analysed the villages, and produced a
preliminary New Urbanist masterplan for future development of the village
including the integration of heritage preservation and sustainable
development. The final masterplan will include design guidance for new
traditional buildings inside the village and for those in future sustainable
urban extensions. The masterplan is not only intended as a fixed plan for
development, but also as a guide for the future of the region.
comprised a series of elements intended to inform the participants about key
aspects of the region, its history, people and architecture. These included
tours of the region’s architecture of Saxon houses and fortified churches
with expert commentary from Romanian specialists, visits to fortified
churches and to Saxon houses renovated by the MET, and to a model farm
demonstrating sustainable ‘micro-farming’ techniques.
There was an
extensive public consultation programme as part of the Workshop, which was
based in the Caminul Cultural (Cultural Centre) in the heart of the village,
allowing citizens to drop in at any time. More formal events included an
evening public meeting attended by the Mayor, Councillors and 140 citizens
of Laslea, to hear from the community about local issues, problems and ideas
for the future, an informal presentation of ‘work in progress’ to receive
feedback from the community on draft proposals, attended by around 30
residents, and a public exhibition on the final evening of the workshop to
present the proposed masterplan and supporting documentation and listen to
workshop a questionnaire on attitudes to cultural heritage commissioned by
the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage, was conducted by
participants under the direction of London based planner/urban designer
Susan Parham assisted by Terje Nypan of the Directorate. The results
influenced the overall design Masterplan.
produced by the participants included proposals for elements as basic as
drainage and water supply and as sophisticated as Internet terminals and
mobile phone networks. Significant cultural landscapes and historic built
form should be preserved in order to develop the region's tourist potential.
Specific recommendations for local enterprise including a market, workshops,
and enhancements to others were included as well as practical assistance and
training in building construction and maintenance. An information centre
will be established
in the village in 2004-5 in order to facilitate information, tourism and
in development in Iraq-al-Amir in Jordan, Mumbai in India, Olinda in Brazil
and elsewhere. Readers interested in becoming involved are invited to
promotes and maintains a number of email discussion forums, including the
TradArch and Pro-Urb lists based in the US, and its own Euro-Urb, Laslea,
Education and other groups.
as a clearing house for a multitude of enquiries about education, and hosts
on its website the only international directory of courses in traditional
architecture in existence. In addition, we have run a successful pilot short
course in classical architecture at the University of Greenwich that was
widely praised by students. The course will be run at three universities
this year. It is intended as an analytical exercise in which students can
begin to understand the classical Orders of architecture and how they were
used historically in traditional buildings. The idea is to give future
designers a basic understanding of the principles underlying the existing
traditional buildings that will form the bulk of their work in practice.
shortly be launching a PhD programme in Traditional Architecture and
Urbanism, validated by the University of Wales and operated through the
of Traditional Arts. We also aim to have an INTBAU Visiting Professorship in
Traditional Architecture and Urbanism at an inner
school of architecture in the near future.
Contemporary Urban Problems
'Sprawl' is a
complex problem that threatens the long term viability of cities around the
world. It is driven by the ubiquity of oil-based transport, but it is also
the result of a century of disconnected Modernist thinking about cities
which is increasingly discredited. In the last fifty years, office parks,
business parks, residential culs-de-sac, superstores, hypermarkets and
peripheral motorways have covered much of Europe and have become the daily
experience of life for many Europeans.
planners and academics have long recognised sprawl development as a complex
problem, but so far little has been done to combat its effects.
In the US
by contrast commentators
have made continuous public attacks on sprawl. A
broadly based group gathering planners, architects, developers,
environmentalists and members of the public behind the banner of New
Urbanism has been working hard to develop practical solutions to the
problem. The movement focuses on physical design and practical action
supported by public involvement, and has made rapid progress.
aim is to reduce the dependence on oil in the transport sector. It is
nostalgic nor romantic, but based on a principled theoretical position.
Disturbingly, amongst European academic architects and planners, sprawl is
seen as interesting and even inspiring.
Those interested in the sustainability of European cities should be on their
guard against such a defeatist view. Let us first examine what we are
planning is characterised by separation: shopping areas are separated from
residential areas, residential areas from office parks, office parks from
industrial estates, and so on. Traffic engineering rules prohibit
interconnection of different modes. Zoning separates uses into 'pods',
separated physically from the places where people live. The net effect of
these decisions is to greatly increase the number and length of trips
required in daily life, which results in a greater number of vehicle
movements for a given number of components.
of this relentless separation of uses can be traced to the 19th century
success in improving public health by technical means, starting with the
separation of sewers and water supplies. This fed paranoia about cleanliness
and about tidiness and order. The end result of this mania for order and
cleanliness came in the eugenics of the 1930s.
soon sought the authority implied in the rationalist and 'scientific'
approach. Experts began to define their areas of expertise. Analyses were
made of residential density, traffic flows, healthiness and occupation,
first as research and then as regulation. From their own expert criteria,
experts began to rationalise city form into simplistic terms possible with
the limited conceptual structures and crude controls of the time.
between engineering and planning
emergence of large numbers of motor cars in the 20th century led to the
emergence of the 'scientific' discipline of traffic engineering. Traffic
engineers applied simplistic Cartesian thinking to problems of traffic flows
across systems as complex as whole cities. The limitations of Newtonian
mathematics meant that it was not possible to quantify flows on a complex
network, so the system was imagined as a series of self-contained pods. From
analysis it was a short step to planning over- simplified diagrammatic road
layouts. Traffic flows could be quantified, and that meant certainty in a
Car-dependent planning is based on an assumption of oil use that is clearly
unsupportable in the long term. The production of oil has now peaked and is
expected to begin a gradual decline over the 21st century. Clearly, cities
and regions dependent on the private car will be likely to suffer, as
transport becomes increasingly expensive. Many low-income households in
urban peripheries - out of walking range of services - and which must own
maintain one or more cars in order to carry out their daily lives will be
reduced to poverty.
dominance of car-dependent planning is revealed by current movement
statistics, which show that the private car is the main means of transport
in urban areas of Europe, although a much higher percentage of trips are
made by walking and cycling than in the US.
There is no single reason for this, but it must be assumed that the survival
of walkable street networks in the centres of traditional European cities is
a major reason. Unlike the blighted inner cities of the US, city centres in
Europe are mostly well populated, if largely gentrified.
sprawl - known in the US as Conventional Suburban Development (CSD) - is not
a 'natural' response to freedom of choice but rather the result of a
fragmented and regimented planning and construction process dominated by a
technocratic expert culture of specialisms.
CSD emerges in
of a clear consensus about future development. In the CSD system, houses,
offices, shops, factories and schools are all rigidly segregated with their
own pattern of roads connected only to an arterial road. The rigid
separation of uses and the dendritic street pattern produced, mans very long
travel distances for the necessities of daily life. Most journeys are by car
as few people can be bothered walking the long distances created by the culs-de-sac
and hierarchical road system, or through the dismal pedestrian environments
typical of CSD. Parents (usually mothers) become taxi drivers for their
overturn this massively entrenched system? As we saw at the beginning of
this article, some architects and planners think we can. We are drawing
lessons from the structure of successful traditional cities and towns, and
applying the principles to contemporary problems. The remainder of this
article will examine some of the principles of this movement.
Return of the
heady environment of London in 1964, the fashionable young Modernist
architect Ron Herron of Archigram proposed a comical giant mobile building
that he termed the 'Walking City'. The image was a paradigmatic if
intentionally ludicrous exemplar of the profligate use of energy assumed in
Modernist planning. From the City Beautiful period until the oil crisis of
1973, most planning projections and the majority of built schemes were based
on a model in which the bulk of transport was to be by private car. Images
of the Ville Radieuse or Ville Contemporaine of Le Corbusier
show pedestrian paths, but walking is evidently considered to be a secondary
role - a leisure activity - as evidenced by the serpentine paths. Clearly
pedestrians are not thought to be in a hurry. By contrast, cars are given
wide straight roads, divided rigorously into seven use categories.
Illustrations show cars travelling at high speed: these are urban highways,
very influential images for architects and town planners, but the massive
tower blocks in parks and superhighways were not the only significant
proposals. More important were two innovations implied by the drawings: the
reversal of the spatial system of the traditional city, and the division of
the city into planning (buildings) and engineering (roads). Early Modernist
city projects such as these reconceptualised city space as a field occupied
by object buildings, in contrast to traditional city space in which
buildings define and enclose space.
Bill Hillier, director of the innovative British planning consultancy Space
Syntax observes that the space in cities is of only two kinds: continuous
(movement spaces) and discontinuous (building plots). In all landscapes, the
discontinuous spaces (plots) define the outlines of the continuous spaces
(roads and movement corridors).
Hillier and his team have developed software which analyses the connectivity
of street networks. Working from the assumption that each turn into a
branching street reduces the connectivity by one level, the Space Syntax
software produces a complex series of calculations to assess the
connectivity of each street to every other street in the network. The
results, displayed graphically, give a strong indication of the streets best
connected. Applied to existing city plans, the model predicts very
successfully which will be the busiest streets.
traditional settlements, the buildings themselves define the roads. The
reason for such compact development is clearly due to the high land values
within walking distance of a town centre. Beyond this distance, land values
fell to a level below which land was rarely fully developed. This is to be a
feature of all human urbanism, defined by the distance people are prepared
to walk on a regular basis, about 400 metres or a five minute walk.
Traditional cities tend to develop as a series of 'neighbourhoods' or 'urban
quarters' of around 800 metres in diameter, or about 40 hectares. Studies of
traditional cities around the world demonstrate the ubiquity of this
pattern. The boundaries of neighbourhoods are not usually physically
defined, but their centres - typically comprising a parish church, town
hall, market, school and other public buildings - are usually found to be
around 800m apart. This seems relatively constant factor of human urbanism,
defined by the limits of the body itself.
traditional urbanism seeks a return to urban form in which daily necessities
are placed within walking distance of houses and offices, following this
elemental principle. It is clear that a reasonable density is required to
support such facilities. Similarly, an interconnected network of streets is
necessary to minimise walking distances between all points in the urban
quarter, as we cannot hope to predict where so many people will want to go.
This is a seemingly obvious point, but one that is missed in the dendritic
circulation patterns of CSD. These two elements - the 40 hectare
neighbourhood and the interconnected network of streets - are fundamental
elements of all new traditional urbanism. The 'Walking City' of new
traditional urbanism is not a Modernist fantasy of control, but a principle
which gives dignity and mobility to people young and old, rich and poor.
In the early
1990s, working with a small group of colleagues, the Florida-based firm
Duany and Plater-Zyberk (DPZ) that had designed Seaside in 1980 began
running conferences on urbanism. This new focus on city building was soon
dubbed 'new' urbanism. In 1994 DPZ were part of the group that founded the
Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU). The CNU was founded around the Charter
for the New Urbanism, a twelve-point programme for the re-establishment of
urbanism in the
In Europe, the
movement began to form in the emotionally charged development world of the
mid 20th century, as dissatisfaction with destructive Modernist
interventions in historic cities crystallised in massive public protests. In
Brussels from 1959, developer
Charles Depauw and local politician Paul Vanden Boeynants began wholesale
demolition of the historic Quartier Nord, intending to replace the
traditional neighbourhood with Corbusian tower blocks and highways. The plan was widely condemned and
the term 'Bruxellisation' became the antonym of the movement for urban
conservation. A similar proposal to level
much-loved Covent Garden was defeated in 1968. Paris was not so lucky, and
the soixante-huitards were unable to save Les Halles (demolished in
August 1970) or prevent the construction of the hated east-west expressway
on the banks of the Seine.
to reconstruct the European city was epitomised in the Rue de Laeken project
of 1989-1995. In Rue de Laeken the Tour Bleu, a hated skyscraper was
demolished and replaced by new buildings built in a variety of muted
classical styles by a group of young European architects. The scheme
replaced the area of the demolished tower in a series of four and five
storey buildings around the perimeter of the site. The quality of the
buildings and the mix of uses contrasts with the poor quality of much
British urban infill. Both Modernists and traditionalists recently expressed
disappointment at Sir William Whitfield's sterile new Paternoster Square
project adjoining St Paul's Cathedral in London.
issues are expected to emerge this century: declining populations and
declining oil supplies. Both will threaten cities in which people cannot
walk or cycle to their daily needs. Can we really expect public transport to
function with a far more widely and thinly distributed population? The
evidence is against it.
sprawling car-dependant cities developed in the post-war period are already
failing in economic terms. The conurbation of Glasgow, for example, a
shining paradigm of Modernist planning - high rise towers in green parks and
the last inner-city motorway program in Europe - lost a third of its
population in the last 30 years. Such huge and placeless car-dependent
cities have been unable to attract either mobile professional people or
mobile capital investment.
those areas in which walkable street networks and traditional buildings have
been preserved have been able to survive for thousands of years. New
traditional urbanist principles of permeable street networks and
neighbourhoods based on walkable dimensions can, be successfully applied to
solve many of the problems introduced into European cities by traffic
engineering and planning based on zoning.
 The newly-formed Council for European Urbanism aims to spread this message.
problem of car-dependency will be a major issue for city and national
governments in the coming century. The world's oil is running out, and
alternatives such as hydrogen fuel cells seem likely to prolong the system
for only a limited time and at high cost.
principle of connectivity embodied in walkable networks, supported by a
clear definition of private and public realm, provides maximum opportunity
for the development of the range of individual paths and connections that
are necessary to self-actualisation for individuals.
regions with strong industrial economies have become those with the ugliest
landscapes of car-dependent sprawl. Here, regional economies are based on
tightly knit groups of small companies, which rely almost without exception
upon road transport for the delivery of goods and products. Their location
in mono-functional sprawl requires most of their employees to drive to and
industrial era in Europe is already nearing and end. Northern England,
Northern France, much of Belgium, the Ruhrgebiet in Germany and the
industrial areas of Eastern Europe are already in severe difficulty. Cities
are shrinking in population are at the same time expanding in physical size:
in the Veneto, the Po Valley, the Paris basin, the Netherlands, South-East
England, the Alpine valleys of Switzerland, Austria, France and Italy, and
around countless other European cities, sprawl landscapes are actively under
construction. This is obviously unsustainable with declining populations
expected over the next century in Europe.
of sprawl Europe, with its disconnected street networks, car-dependency and
unattractive places seems very doubtful. The historic centres of European
cities are robust and sustainable, as their great longevity makes clear.
Conversely, the landscapes of the peripheries and areas with poorly
performing economies - central France, parts of Spain, the west of England
and Wales, the agricultural parts of Eastern Europe - retain compact
settlements, coherent road networks and minimal urban sprawl, and have great
potential for sustainable urban development in future.
urbanism is like other organisms a system of simple parts that can be
combined to produce an infinite variety of urban forms. It is a complex
system made of simple parts that can be easily replicated. It is resilient
and adaptable: traditional cities have been more or less continuously
inhabited for 2 millennia. The individual elements of traditional urbanism -
the houses and buildings - are made of simple materials that, though not
necessarily particularly durable, can be readily repaired with materials
that are easily found or simply made and used over a period of thousands of
years. Progressive modifications to small elements have not damaged the viability
of the whole.
generation of architects and planners must learn from the examples of the
past, and not try to carry forward the destructive paradigms of Modernist
architecture and urbanism.
anyone who accepts, publicly acknowledges and at all times acts in
accordance with the principles and spirit of the Charter, to become an
INTBAU Member. The bulk of our membership options are free, or on the basis
of a quid pro quo. For example, if you put a prominent link on your
organisation's website, we do the same for your organisation and that
qualifies it for Supporter membership. Individuals can register for free
general membership by using our online registration form. We encourage
members to be actively involved, and we are happy to consider proposals from
any member. Please drop us a line if you have something interesting to
discuss: we'd love to help, even if it's just to put you in touch with other
for further information, or contact Dr Matthew Hardy by email at
Many transport specialists talk of options and
alternatives to the private car. Julia Meaton and Simon Kingham argue
that this has proven largely ineffective. Motorists are highly
resistant to giving up their cars or even reducing their use: '[Drivers]
offer a whole range of reasons for this, but these are often excuses to
justify their use of a highly convenient and flexible mode of
transport…'. Meaton & Kingham, 'Children’s Perception of Transport
Modes: Car Culture in the Classroom?', in World Transport Policy and
Practice vol. 2, no. 4, 1998.
HRH The Prince of
Wales, Speech to the Royal Gala Evening at Hampton Court Palace, on the
occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the Royal Institute of British
Architects, 30 May 1984. Source for this and all of the Prince of
Wales's speeches is www.princeofwales.gov.uk
 Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger (eds.),
"The Invention of Tradition",
Whereas customs are simply what people mostly do at a particular time.
Customs can become traditions once their practical justification has
The town was the location for a meeting of EU local authority planners
that produced the Fredrikstad Declaration of 1998, which binds them to a
range of environmental policies.
The most strident critic is James Kunstler, whose writings include
The Geography of Nowhere, the rise and decline of America's man-made
landscape, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1993; Home From Nowhere.
Remaking our everyday world for the twenty-first century, Simon &
Schuster, New York, 1996; and The City in Mind, Meditations on the
urban condition, Free Press, New York, 2002. Other critical works
include Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and Jeff Speck,
Suburban Nation, the rise of sprawl and the death of the American dream,
North Point Press, New York, 2001; and Peter Calthorpe, The next
American Metropolis, ecology, communities, and the American dream,
Princeton, New York, 1993; and with William Fulton, The Regional
City, planning for the end of sprawl, Island Press, Washington, 2000.
Notably by the Congress for the New Urbanism, http://www.cnu.org and
more recently by the Smart Growth movement,
Notably by Rem Koolhaas, but also by others in the Low Countries. See
for example Rem Koolhaas, S, M, L, XL,
Monacelli Press, New York, 1995;
Xaveer de Geyter Architects, After-Sprawl, NAI, 2002.
David Crofts, speaking at First Australia and New Zealand Congress on
the New Urbanism, Melbourne, Australia, 26 April 2001.
This division is
usually the oldest feature of any occupied landscape, as British
landscape archaeologist Oliver Rackham notes.
This observation is
confirmed by recent traffic studies, which find that people will tend to
drive to a destination if the walking time is perceived to be more than
for the wording of the Charter.
A new organisation, the Council for European Urbanism, was formed in
Bruges on 6 April 2003 in order to promote traditional European
urbanism. See http://www.intbau.org/CEU.htm
Image 1: Class of 1997 in the courtyard at
the rear of Gloucester Gate.
Students came from a wide range of countries, many on scholarships.
Photo credit: Richard Ivey
Image 2: Roof structure of shelter, Upton Grey,
built by students of the
Foundation Course in Architecture and the Building Arts.
Photo credit: Richard Ivey
Image 3: Houses at Poundbury, Dorchester,
Photo credit: The Prince's Foundation
Image 4: Proposal for the staged development of
former shipyard, Fredrikstad, Norway, by participants at INTBAU Scandinavian
Summer School, 2002.
Image credit: Image ©INTBAU 2002
Image 5: Preliminary masterplan for Laslea,
Transylvania, Romania, produced
by participants at the INTBAU Transylvanian Development Workshop, 2003.
Image credit: Image ©INTBAU 2003
Vol. 8, No. 2