On Queen Mother Square in Poundbury, a quaint town in southern England, sits a huge neo-Classical apartment block, painted bright yellow and decorated with Romanesque columns.
A short walk away are several rows of mock-Georgian houses, some with fake clock towers; several red brick “Victorian” warehouses, built a few years ago; and a pink home that resembles a castle, with a modern conservatory attached.
Poundbury is relatively new — construction on it began in the 1990s and is not scheduled to finish for several years — but it is built in a range of architectural styles that had their heyday at least 100 years ago. There are no concrete buildings, as are found in many British city centers, or glass towers with floor-to-ceiling windows.
The town of about 4,600 people has been widely mocked as a prince’s plaything and architectural theme park. Yet for one very important man — King Charles III, Britain’s new monarch — Poundbury is what British towns should look like.
For nearly four decades, Charles has sought to influence the shape of Britain’s urban landscape, using speeches and books to attack modern architecture and highlight alternatives based on classical forms. He has used his wealth and land, too. Before becoming king, Charles was in charge of the Duchy of Cornwall, whose estates make up more than 200 square miles of England and Wales. Since 1987, he has developed several model towns on its land, including Poundbury, to show how his preferences can work in practice.