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Prince Charles says town planning should work with human nature

Interesting conference on Thursday held by the Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment.

In his speech the Prince of Wales said:

We are now subjecting ourselves, I think, increasingly to an ongoing disaster and one of the reasons is because we have thought only in compartments. We’ve created monocultures. Particularly with trees and plants we’ve forgotten about the need for biodiversity, the essential interrelatedness and interconnectedness of all these species, bacteria and insects and goodness knows what else together. We’re losing all these species at a rapid rate.

The point I’m trying to make is that we’re doing exactly the same thing with our own human societies. We have created monocultures and look at the result. We’ve also gone against the natural human intuitive aspect, our own nature, which is related to the wider picture. That was illustrated to me very well when visiting a large slum on the outskirts of Mumbai some years ago. I remember approaching this place and it look like a landfill site. It was covered in plastic sheets and goodness knows what. You went in a little whole at the side and to my astonishment inside was an entire miniature, almost like a Lilliputian town.

A traditional town with little tiny passages, streets and shops. The whole thing mimicked what a traditional town actually is. It struck me then that in a strange way we operate like bees making a hive and ants making a nest or whatever. The universal pattern is within us. I think that if you look at the way we’ve developed our approach over the last hundred years, we have gone against that intuitive process.

So when my Foundation goes around with all these Enquiry by Designs we do actually find that if you provide people with an alternative prospect, actually they are voting with their feet for something that reminds them of what intuitively they feel to make comfortable in a living environment and before you realise it they have actually created a more traditional type of community. People I feel also want to see a sense of identity. They want to know that they’re in Warwickshire or India or in the Middle East. They don’t necessarily always want a monocultural approach where you could be anywhere in the world in, very often, buildings that aren’t suited to the climatic conditions or aren’t using the kind of materials that might be closer to hand and more renewable.


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